Tuesday is a big day in Darby with the Farmers Market, free lunch in the park for youth under age 18 and the youth activity at the Darby Community Public Library.
“Libraries Rock!” is the summer theme for libraries across Montana.
Stacie Rennaker, library director, said the summer reading activity after lunch every Tuesday has “been incredible.”
“One cold rainy day we had 36 but every other week we’ve had at least 50 kids,” Rennaker said. “I’ve got older kids coming to help. Everyone is so excited about rocks. I had one kid say ‘When I get older I’m going to be a doctor and on the weekends I’m going to be a geologist.’ I said ‘Awesome, I’ve got a book for you.’”
Rennaker said participants include local youth, kids from the day care and youth in the School's Out! Academic & Recreation (SOAR) after school program and summer programming.
On Tuesday, the activity was “Mining for Sapphires” where youth, parents, caregivers and teen helpers sifted through eight buckets of dirt from Gem Mountain near Phillipsburg.
Rennaker purchased the dirt thanks to The Friends of the Darby Library who received an Edwards Charitable Foundation grant that helps to fund the summer youth projects.
Darryll Coyle, of the Bitterroot Gem and Mineral Society, was on hand helping with the sapphire hunting. He explained the steps to find sapphires demonstrating the washing and sorting methods.
Retired educator Judy Burhop scooped two cups of dirt into each sifting boxes (screens with wooden sides) then youth went to the troughs of water to wash the dirt. The library had tables set up to dump the dirt on to and tweezers to help with sorting. When the kids found sapphires they put them into old film canisters or baggies with their names on them. The youngest children dug through a bucket of dirt leftover from digging gems last week.
Rennaker said it has been a great summer of rocks at the Darby Library.
“The very first activity my daughter, who is an artist, came and youth drew with markers on rocks,” Rennaker said. “I couldn’t believe all the kids sitting on the lawn drawing on rocks, they had so much fun.”
Last week, youth dug crystals and found all types of rocks with the help of Bonnie Klein. On July 17 they will cut geodes with Lori Schallenberger. Katelynn White will assist the kids with stepping stones and Herlene Rich will help with Lego Destructo-bots on July 24. Youth will complete cardboard construction with UM Spectrum on July 31.
Coyle said the summer theme has been a boon to the Bitterroot Gem and Mineral Society.
“Victor Heritage Museum with a summer theme of mining has our large rock display case that is normally in Stevensville,” he said. “The North Valley Public Library has our small mineral ID case. It is a summer of minerals and rocks.”
Rennaker said to watch for rocks along the Darby Trail painted by youth during the 'Last Friday' activity in Darby.
“The summer library theme is supposed to be Rock and Roll,” she said. “PBS came down and we did and activity of making music but that’s the only music activity we’ve done. I love rocks, my kids love rocks and I think all kids love rocks. I think the kids are really enjoying themselves.”
Visit the Darby Community Public Library at 101 S Marshall Street in Darby or visit online at darbylibrary.net.