Waycross - LIBRARY OF THE YEAR
The Okefenokee Regional Library System (OKRLS), headquartered in Waycross, Georgia, has been recognized as 2019 Georgia Library of the Year for their work connecting communities and creating space for public engagement. The five OKRLS branches serve Appling, Bacon, Clinch, Pierce, and Ware counties. OKRLS strives to provide programs that actively bring together people with shared interests. These include LEGO, textile arts, and anime clubs, a bingo group, monthly cooking program, DIY club, and many more, such as OkeCon, an annual celebration of geek culture with over 500 attendees.
“There are people who have lived here their whole lives and never knew there were others like them, who shared their interests, right here in South Georgia,” said Kathleen McClure, OKRLS librarian. “OkeCon and our other events and clubs offer an opportunity for the library to help people connect and form a community.”
OKRLS has also worked hard to ensure that each branch in the system has the same access to technology with updated computers, onsite 3D printing, virtual reality systems, and a traveling STEM collection. This gives students and other library patrons in rural areas access to equipment, opportunities, and experiences that help them compete in a global environment.
“Our staff members are fortunate to live and work in some of the best communities in Georgia, and these communities are at the heart of everything we do,” said Director Martha Powers-Jones. “We make sure that each person we meet – whether in the library or through our outreach services – feels valued, respected, and connected at the library and through our services. To us, the library isn’t just a place but a service – for everyone!”
Some of the weekly programs for students include: (These activities can be broken down from toddler, children, pre-teen, to teen)
- PC Builders Club (Students 14+ can learn how to build a PC from the ground up) (Waycross only)
- Animae Culture Club
- Makers and Shakers (Waycross only)
- Story and Craft Time
- Lego Club (Waycross only)
- Toddler Time (for our future Gators)
Events: (These are a big hit with our students!)
Summer Reading Program
Maker Camp (Waycross only)
OkeCon (Waycross only)
Additionally, our students have access to an impressive Makerspace. The Makerspace, located in the Waycross-Ware County Public Library, is intended both as a participatory learning space and a means for all of our community members to become inventors, creators and makers. The tools here are for educational, practical, entrepreneurial and recreational uses. The Makerspace celebrates the power of our community members to collaborate to identify problems, create solutions, and generate ideas to address various challenges.
The Makerspace has three main focus areas: Making: Focus on physical exploration and fabrication Creative Tools: Focus on digital arts, illustration, photo, video and audio editing Coding/Game Design: Focus on programming languages and digital game design
Some of the tools in the Makerspace include, but not limited to, 3-D printers, Makerbot Replicator 5th gen, Virtual Reality headset, green screen/video editing tools, Wacom tablets, iMacs, and Filabot EX2.
From doing special storytime in classrooms to judging the student technology competition, the library staff supports the endeavors of our school system. They are invested in our students and community not only by giving their time and services but also by providing first-rate programming and activities.
Some of the other offerings include but not limited to:
Basic Computer Class
Library Gaming Guild