Librarian wants arts unit

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

The list of things Becky Nichols wants for Christmas this year is pretty short.

Her eyes bright with excitement in the dark cavernous interior of the dreamland of interactive children’s creative workshops, Nichols recalled her own first encounter with Kaleidoscope, sponsored by Hallmark, in Selma in 1981.

She was hooked and has worked diligently during her years as librarian to get the show to Selma &045; four times since 1981, the last being in the year 2000.

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Nichols took over the children’s librarian’s role a while back, when the last incumbent departed, and added those responsibilities to her portfolio as librarian.

She delights being in the children’s corner as frequently as possible, on the second floor of the library, literally on her knees, with groups of children who come through for various programs.

Nichols is absolutely committed to the concept of No Child Be Left Behind, the ambitious education initiative introduced by the Bush Administration. And the key to that goal, she believes, is a robust reading and arts program.

From Nichols’ viewpoint, a vehicle such as Kaleidoscope, which allows children to interact with a wide variety of strange and wonderful creations with almost unlimited freedom, is a community asset which could go far in bringing out the talents and creativity of children.

Even the most cursory glance inside the big purple tent seemed to support that view.

The children’s faces were filled with utter delight as they moved quickly from one spot to another, with adults standing by and assisting as needed. But mostly it was the young people &045; grades K-5 from the Selma City Schools &045; who were in charge. This was their place and, given the opportunities to be otherwise, they were remarkably well-behaved.

Chris Duh, creator of Kaleidoscope, was on hand as part of the team that travels with the exhibit. Duh has been in charge of design for the past 14 years. Home base for him is Kansas City, where the Hallmark corporate campus is located downtown.

Duh revels in his work, could not think of doing anything else. Most of his time is spent developing new exhibits for the Kansas City Kaleidoscope. Periodically he will do some updating with the mobile unit that requires three trailers and two semi rigs to move from place to place. Inside one of the trailers are a small car and pickup truck.

Duh and Ron Woorley who was working with him on Thursday estimated that more than 200,000 youngsters visit the mobile exhibit annually. This year it will have visited seven cities, and the first stop in 2004 is San Antonio.

Saturday is the last day for Kaleidoscope’s current stay and it will be open to the public free of charge. Duh recommended that there be one adult for every three youths. The hours will be noon till 4 p.m.

It promises to be a great family outing for those who’ve not yet been &045; a wonderful Christmas gift for children.

And if Becky Nichols has her way, one day – just maybe &045; Selma will have its own Kaleidoscope that lives here, serving the city and the county, 365 days a year.

Are you listening, Santa?