50 STORIES 50 YEARS: THE PIONEER LIBRARY SYSTEM
The Oklahoma Arts Council’s support of the Pioneer Library System (PLS) has allowed PLS to connect patrons from across central Oklahoma with creative avenues for lifelong learning through the Summer Reading and Summer Arts Expression programs.
The Summer Arts Expression Program brings touring artists to library branches in cities as diverse as Blanchard, Shawnee, and Oklahoma City and forms the cornerstone of the Summer Reading Program.
Children sing, dance, clap, paint, act, and cultivate their reading skills with the program’s many high quality performance artists. Such creative activity is particularly important in the small, rural branch libraries whose young patrons often only participate in arts programming at their hometown libraries.
In 2015, 13,500 individuals participated in Summer Arts Expression – over ⅓ of the total participation in programs across the system.
Summer Arts Expression is not only an important creative learning avenue for patrons, but a supporter of arts jobs in central Oklahoma. Traditionally, the PLS hires six individuals or groups who tour all 11 library branches over the course of the summer.
If the decreases in funding that the Pioneer Library System has seen over the past five years continue, they will be faced with cutting back on the number and variety of artists they are able to bring in to share avenues of creative expression with their patrons.
A majority of the library system’s patrons live at or below poverty level, and Summer Arts Expression is a crucial, accessible driver of creative vitality in these under-served central Oklahoma communities.
This story celebrates 50 years of the Oklahoma Arts Council and how the state’s investments have positive ripple effects on communities across Oklahoma. See other stories or follow this link for more information.