A Tale and a Trail

Photo courtesy Calvert Library.

By Molly Weeks Crumbley

Like many organizations facing the challenges that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic, public libraries have had to rethink the ways in which they connect with their communities. Calvert Library adapted to the use of virtual programs and curbside services to reach customers even when doors were closed. The libraries are open again, and finding new, creative ways to hold events in person.

Calvert Library is taking some of their offerings on the road, hitting the hiking trails in October to launch StoryWalks into the community.

A StoryWalk is an interactive experience that brings the pages of books to life. “Laminated pages from a children’s book are attached to wooden stakes, which are installed along an outdoor path. As you stroll down the trail, you’re directed to the next page in the story,” the program explains.

Calvert Library has created two of their own walks in partnership with the American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT). The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

Free, outdoors, and open all month, the two trails are a way for library programs to reach people where they are and encourage a love of both literature and the great outdoors. Robyn Truslow, public relations coordinator for Calvert Library, explains, “Calvert Library believes in being a good steward of our community and in serving as a gateway to information, imagination and inspiration,” a set of values that meshes well with those of the ACLT, a 3,400-acre land conservancy spanning Prince Frederick to Port Republic that works to “provide environmentally sustainable public access to managed properties for educational, scientific, recreational and cultural purposes.”

The StoryWalks follow the themes of this year’s One Maryland One Book selection, The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay, a collection of essays that celebrate the little joys that can be found in the everyday. One Maryland One Book is an annual Maryland Humanities statewide reading event.

 “Ross Gay writes poetically about his garden and reminds us about the impact of connecting with the natural world. He delights in stopping and connecting with the world around him,” says Truslow.

 StoryWalk visitors will have the chance to do just that as they connect with poems and essays celebrating the delights of the natural world. Emily Mudd, one of the event coordinators, encourages guests to bring a smartphone to scan the QR codes you encounter on your walk, “and we’ll read to you!” 

Via QR codes, visitors will have access to audio recordings, including a reading by award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni.

“We love this opportunity to partner with ACLT to bring literature, nature and well-being together,” adds Mudd. In addition to The Book of Delights themed path, there will also be another path geared towards children that features pages from Michael Rosen’s childhood classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Both of the StoryWalks can be located at the ACLT north trailhead off of Dares Beach Road in Prince Frederick from October 2-30.

Calvert Library:

American Chestnut Land Trust:

Photo courtesy Calvert Library.