Get to Know: Elgin Children’s Network (ECN)


Did you know?

The St. Thomas Public Library is a member of the Elgin Children’s Network (ECN).

What’s that, you ask?

ECN brings together a number of agencies and individuals from our local education, health and social services sectors.  Through the years, ECN has evolved to become an innovative and collaborative planning table.  As a group, we strive to put children and families at the centre of all discussions, decisions and actions.  The goal is to build communities where every child has the opportunity to be engaged, empowered, and to thrive.
Can you give me an example of something ECN has done?

Yes!  There are two examples, in fact. 

One: ECN was instrumental in the planning and development of the Northside Neighbourhood Hub.  The Hub is a public, accessible space where people can come together to Connect, Celebrate, Discover, Explore and Share. People can easily participate in a variety of free or low-cost activities, seek information about different services and supports in the community, sign up for a program offered right in their neighbourhood or simply drop-in to connect with a friend.  Check it out at 114 Confederation Drive or give them a call at 519-631-5182.  You can also find them on Facebook:

Two: ECN has also recently launched a website  The site is designed to connect parents and caregivers with people, places and resources that can help them.  Check it out today!

Why is it important for the library to be involved with ECN?

Sitting at the ECN table gives us a unique insight into the programs and services available for children and families around Elgin County.  We can share this information with library customers.  We can also use it to make sure our programs and services complement, and don’t duplicate, what’s already available in our community.  It also provides us with opportunities to expand the reach of library services.  For example, stay tuned to hear more about our new holds pick up location at the Hub!

New Programs for Tweens and Teens!

Blackout Poetry - April Party Crowd

Do you have tweens or teens at home in need of a creative outlet? We have a program for that! Two new programs are starting in April for older kids to get together and be creative  at the library.

Tween Scene is for ages 9-12 and will run from 4-5 pm on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Join Darlene and Amelia to make crafts and play fun games like Minute to Win-It. No registration required, all supplies will be provided. On April 22nd we will be making Plywood Paintings, so come out and make a masterpiece to jazz up your bedroom!

Drop-In Youth Cafe is for teens ages 12-19. It runs from 4-5 pm on the first Wednesday of the month. Join Cindy and Amelia to make things, learn new skills, and hang out in a relaxed and friendly place. On Wednesday April 1st we’ll be making book page art, including black-out poetry that we would like to display in the Teen Lounge for poetry month!

Reason #101- Making a Difference: Teen Advisory Board

Reason #101 - Teen Advisory Board

How does our Teen Advisory Board make a difference? They help us with all sorts of things around the library! Teen volunteers helped us paint faces for our Culture Days program in September. They volunteered their time in the summer to help staff run Summer Reading workshops for younger kids. They will be running our popular annual Haunted Library event on October 17th. Also, our TAB members provide input into how we cater to teens as a library by helping us pick books for our collection, helping us make their space more appealing and by representing the library out in the community.

Teens are powerful members of our community and it is crucial for the library to reach out to them. Their creativity and spirit keep our programs interesting and keep our teen services dynamic! They make a real difference around here, we simply couldn’t run some of our programs without their help!

A New Storytime Program is Starting Soon!

Family Reading

Why read to your baby? It’s probably the most important thing you can do to get your child ready for school! We, as a library, recognize how essential early literacy skills are in the development and educational success of children. We also know that it can be difficult to know exactly what an infant gets out of a book. We have designed a new drop-in story time that will teach young moms and dads how to read to their babies and pre-school aged children.The program will include snacks and the opportunity for parents and children alike to connect and play in a relaxed and inclusive setting. The program is free and there is no registration required, so if you’re a young parent and want to connect to others in your community, join us at 1:00 on Wednesday afternoons starting September 17th.You do not need to have a library card to drop into the program, so come on in!


Join our Teen Advisory Board!

September means a brand new year for our Teen Advisory Board! If you’re in grades 8 through 12, come on out and join us for our first meeting on September 17th at 4:00. TAB meets once a month for an hour, but as a TAB member you’ll have opportunities to volunteer for lots of library events! In TAB meetings, we discuss books, plan programs like the Haunted Library (coming soon), and talk about teen services at the library. And there’s free snacks. So come on out and meet some new people! We also do fun stuff like watch movies and have social events. It all counts towards the volunteer hours you need to graduate. We’ll even fill out the form for you!


Reason #62: We Loan Free Video Games!

Reason #62 - We loan free video games It’s the summer. To some kids, this means parking their bottoms in front of the television and playing hours upon hours of video games. Purchasing new games, or even USED ones, can become expensive. (Many new games are about $55 each!) Some people think video game play is something that should be traded for fresh air, exercise, or reading. While we at the library discourage endless hours of video game play, we do think that they have something to offer. We also think that they can be a good form of entertainment and education for children and teens. (Things that everyone needs!) We also think that they should be available to everyone. For over two years, St. Thomas Public Library has been loaning video games for XBOX 360, PS3, Wii, and Nintendo DS. Why does the library loan free video games? (My mother used to say that they rot your brain.) There’s an easy answer! They can be great at teaching youth at a broad range of age and ability many skills. Mind you, every game is different and therefore offers different skills. It’s a very sneaky kind of learning! For example, many video games have text boxes that pop onto the screen (sometimes without an audio companion), so children are encouraged to read. Not enough? How about this – gaming teaches:

  • Critical thinking (including “Thinking outside the box” and finding multiple solutions to a problem.)
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Money management
  • Multitasking
  • Organizational skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Map reading skills (which comes in handy when the GPS fails)
  • Encouragement for exploration
  • Geographical orientation and map reading
  • Learning from your mistakes
  • Music appreciation (have you ever listened to some of the musical scores created for a video game? Where else are kids these days exposed to classical music?)

Can a book do all of that? And this list goes on and on! But these are just the opinions of one person. Tell us what YOU think! Rules for Video Game Loan:

  • 7 day loan period
  • 2 maximum renews (if no holds)
  • $1/day per item overdue fine

All games are rated either “E” for Everyone or “E 10+” for everyone aged 10 and older, and “T” for teens (found in the Teen Lounge.) While the games are located in the Children’s and Teens’ Department, that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy them! Check the library’s online catalogue for game titles. (Click “Power Search” and in the “Location” drop-down menu, select “Video Games.” Click “Search.” You do not need to type in anything else.)

Reason #57: With Tech, Kids Can Explore & Discover!

Reason #57 - With tech kids can explore and discover


The library is a great place for kids to do some self-directed learning! Kids, especially those in the 9-12 age bracket, learn well by exploring on their own. With this in mind, we have programs and resources to allow kids to discover and keep those young minds nimble!


We have partnered with the St. Joseph’s High School Renaissance Robotics Team to bring you Lego Mindstorms Robots, where kids (ages 9-12) learn to build a robot and basic coding to move the robot around and assign it simple tasks. This two-session program has been wildly popular and our summer sessions are full, but we plan to continue in the fall.

Snap Circuits

Join us to explore snap circuits on Tuesday July 22nd, all day in the Ingram Room. Snap Circuits are a safe way for kids to explore electricity and make their own circuitry. The library has purchased a snap circuit kit for this program, so watch for more snap circuit programs in the future.

Stop Motion Animation

In August we are having a Stop Motion Animation workshop for ages 9 and up. We’ll let kids get creative and teach them how to use an iPad to create a stop motion animated film. Kids can create and use technology to bring their visions to life!