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Artist, Craftsmen Help Library Program Take Root

photo by: Photo by Eric Ayres

Ohio County Public Library staff members Ellen Scheid, Young Adult Specialist; Julia Bachmann, Outreach Services Specialist; and Lee Ann Cleary, Children's Department Specialist; post with nationally recognized Wheeling-based illustrator Logan Schmitt and a large print of his “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” artwork that fits with the theme of the library's “Read Beyond the Beaten Path” Summer Reading Program, which kicks off Monday, June 6.

WHEELING — The Ohio County Public Library’s Summer Reading Program kicks off Monday, and a truly trailblazing effort has been made to help transform the library into an immersive wilderness for bookworms.

The outdoorsy theme boasts a motif filled with camping, hiking and nature-loving scenery for the library’s “Read Beyond the Beaten Path” Summer Reading Program, which is open to everyone. The program begins June 6 and continues through July 16.

“Studies have shown that kids lose a lot of the skills that they learned during the school year in the summer if they’re not reading,” said Lee Ann Cleary, Children’s Department Specialist at the Ohio County Public Library.

Summer reading programs began as a way to help schools combat that “summer slide” and the inevitable decline in students’ reading skills over summer break. While summer reading typically targets school-aged students, Cleary said people of all ages are encouraged to participate, which sets a great example for younger readers.

“For everybody else, it’s a great way to enjoy some reading, but it’s also important to show kids that reading can be done for fun throughout your life and is an enjoyable hobby,” Cleary said. “Kids are more likely to read if they see adults who they love sitting down to read, so that’s why we encourage all ages to join the summer reading program, read and earn some prizes.”

During the program, participants are able to log their reading time to win badges and prizes throughout the event.

To help enhance the ambiance at the library to match the Summer Reading theme, the library staff recruited the talents of a well-known local artist and some skilled craftsmen.

The library partnered with nationally known Wheeling-based illustrator Logan Schmitt to help promote the program. Schmitt produced an extra-large print of his “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” artwork, which will be on display throughout the program.

Schmitt grew up by the woods in Wheeling, and since establishing his reputation as an accomplished illustrator, he has worked with a wide array of nationally acclaimed musicians.

Schmitt’s illustrations can be seen on official tour posters and T-shirts by artists such as the Dave Matthews Band, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Van Morrison, Billy Strings, Old Crow Medicine Show, Greensky Bluegrass, Luke Combs, The Avett Brothers, The Devil Makes Three, Slightly Stoopid and many more. He has also been commissioned to create artwork for Four String Brewing Co., The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the city of Columbus and other organizations.

His piece at the library features black bears and forest scenery that capture the “Wild, Wonderful” West Virginia motto.

“This was originally made for an Avett Brothers poster for a show they did down in Morgantown,” Schmitt said on Friday while visiting the completed display at the library. “I kind of repurposed it as a regular art print for anyone to get. I got the inspiration from a waterfall down in Thomas, West Virginia, near Davis, West Virginia, in Canaan Valley, where there’s this beautiful orange rock formation with a waterfall around it.”

The artwork was reproduced in many forms for the library’s Summer Reading Program, Schmitt explained.

“We did some stickers and a screen-printed version of this print, as well,” he said, noting that he has been a faithful patron of the Ohio County Public Library for years. “I was happy to do it.”

Another great addition to the Children’s Department at the library was installed last week by the Cattrell Co. Inc. and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 186 and 432. A new book tree took root just in time for the kick off of the Summer Reading Program.

The tree features larger-than-life leaves which shadow a campfire rug for children to sit on during activities, such as Story Time. The tree’s base features storage for books, toys and other items for activities in the future. The trunk of the tree is made up of shelves that house books for the department’s new OCPL Kids! Book Lending Program. Seating is available for Story Time or other reading on the bench at the tree’s base or on the nearby cushioned “tree stump.”

For more information on the Ohio County Public Library’s Summer Reading program and other activities, visit the library’s website at www.ohiocountylibrary.org or call 304-232-0244.

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