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Library proves to be a place for everyone

OCEANSIDE — On Monday laughs, camaraderie, and shouts of “bingo” could be heard coming from the Civic Center Library second floor meeting room. About a dozen gathered for the first meeting of the social club for adults with learning disabilities.

Natalie Pfenninger came up with the club idea. She is a library regular who stops in once or twice a week, and a developmentally disabled adult.

“I’m always looking for things to do,” Pfenninger said.

Pfenninger said she was pleased with the day’s turn out.

The first meeting began with introductions, and a group brainstorming session on a possible club name. Then several rounds of bingo were played.

Plans for upcoming Monday club meetings include a library scavenger hunt to locate materials, a volunteer day to help with library book stamping, a basic computer skills lesson, and a crafts day.

Each activity will include options to suit different interests and abilities.

Richard Pfenninger, Natalie’s dad, gave the library kudos for following up on Natalie’s idea and organizing the club.

“It’s a good opportunity for everyone to increase socialization,” Richard Pfenninger said.

Senior librarian Jennelise Hafen said club members help think up activities for future club meetings, which may include long term projects.

The novel library club idea seems to be first in the state.

Hafen said in her research to organize the club she only found two libraries that have a similar meet up group, and both are outside California.

“There’s not a lot of other libraries we can copy from,” Hafen said. “We’ll figure it out together.”

Hafen spoke to support agencies that serve developmentally disabled adults to get guidance on suitable activities, and best meet up times prior to the first club date.

One organization stepped up and provided library staff and volunteers a brief training on best practices for working with developmentally disabled. Recommendations included courtesies like addressing the individual, not their caregiver.

After a month of in house planning, invitations to the first club meeting were made to library patrons and local support agencies.

The library is also considering starting a meet up group for adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The drop in club meets at the Civic Center Library, Mondays at 1 p.m. Caregivers are welcome to attend.

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