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Now Austin's cooking

The American-Statesman reports in today's edition that the new Austin library in downtown, which is opening in two years, will have a big cooking class area.

The architects and librarians are right in catering to a growing group of people who are interested in food, recipes and ingredients.

I started a cooking class that I offer on the first Monday of each month a couple of years ago, and had a half-dozen people at the outset. This past Monday, I cooked for 17, but had enough food to feed 20, including myself.

The program has, to say the least, grown in popularity. In fact, we're probably at capacity.

I'd sure love to have a kind of dedicated culinary space, but we are, after all, a small library in a small community. So, I make do with a tailgate-type cooker and keep the dishes simple.

That's OK. It's all about having fun and meeting the needs of our patrons.

Bring us your tech problems

During the summer we set aside an hour every other Tuesday to help people who were having problems with their tablets.

We helped three or four every week. Some had trouble figuring out how to borrow e-books frm the library. Others wanted to buy apps. And a few had been given their tablets and only knew how to turn them on. I think we helped them all.

Now we're starting a new service. Instead of limiting our assistance to tablets, we'll try to help with any technical problem having to do with laptops, tablets, word-processing, etc.

The tech-savvy staffers will be here to help from noon to 1 p.m. every other Tuesday.

So come by and let us help you.

A good early start

Years ago the state of Texas had a program that provided money to help improve residents' parenting skills.

I headed up the community committee that decided how to spend that money up in the Wichita Falls area. It was a good program, and I learned a lot of eye-opening stuff about the importance of very early childhood development. In particular I found out how children behave when they are neglected. Holding, loving, talking to and reading to a very young child is crucial for his or her brain development.

Much more research has been done on this topic in the years since I served on that panel, all of it simply underscoring the main point that young children must be stimulated in many ways so as to have a healthy brain.

Starting this Friday the library is going to give parents new tools to help them nurture the brains of their pre-k children. The program is called "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten." The kickoff is at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

This is a major initiative for us, and we are all excited about being able to help parents raise good, smart kids.

They got a head-start

Twenty-five kids signed up for our new "1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten" program this morning.

That's a better turnout than I expected, but I don't know how many pre-k young people are in our area. I suspect that this part of Hays County skews older than, say, the rest of Texas.

There is no deadline for participating, and this will be an ongoing program. So if you know someone with a youngster in this age group please let them know.

A summer of reading

More and more kids, teens and adults are participating in our summer programs here at the library.

This summer, we had 240 children in the reading program, and they read 4,700 books! More than 70 people were involved in the adult program, and 30 were in the teen program.

A total of 37 area merchants provided prizes. Many thanks to them, especially.

Next summer we'll have even more, I'm sure.