“Bats at the Library!” educates young readers about bat conservation

The audience meets a Michigan-native bat at the first special presentation for the Manistee County Library Summer Reading Program. (Jane Bond/News Advocate)

The audience meets an Egyptian fruit bat during the first special presentation for the Manistee County Library Summer Reading Program. (Jane Bond/News Advocate)

From nesting in hair to descriptions taken straight out of horror novels, bats are often depicted in a negative light. Disproving these old myths and urban legends was a major emphasis of the program held Tuesday at the Manistee County Library, which kicked off the Manistee County Library Summer Reading Program.

Ian Ableson of the Organization for Bat Conservation shows off a young fruit bat during Tuesday's presentation at the library. (Jane Bond/News Advocate)

Ian Ableson of the Organization for Bat Conservation shows off a young fruit bat during Tuesday’s presentation at the library. (Jane Bond/News Advocate)

“Bats at the Library!” was the first of many special programs to be held at the library this summer, presented by the Organization for Bat Conservation. The organization is based out of Pontiac, and uses their national “Save the Bats” campaign to help educate people of all ages about bat conservation.

Ian Ableson, an education specialist from the organization, said that their presentations for kids are especially important for the campaign.

“A lot of this presentation is about providing a positive experience with bats, as they have such a bad reputation for a lot of people,” said Ableson. He explained that their mission is also to educate communities about White Nose Syndrome, a disease that is hurting the bat population in North America.

Andrea Cosier is head of Youth Services at the Manistee County Library, and felt that the presentation was a great way to kick off the summer reading program.

“Our theme for this summer is ‘Building a Better World.’ We have a large variety of programs, everything from construction to environmental awareness presentations. There is a little bit of something for all of the kids in the community.”

Several volunteers helped demonstrate the impressive wingspan that would be seen on a rare golden-capped fruit bat.  (Jane Bond/News Advocate)

Several volunteers helped demonstrate the impressive wingspan that would be seen on a rare golden-capped fruit bat. (Jane Bond/News Advocate)

Presentations will be held all summer, and are funded by the Friends of the Manistee County Library. The summer reading program is open to kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers. It will run June 12 to August 11, and young readers can sign up at any branch.

“Our focus is reading but it’s also about keeping their minds active, and what they can do for their community and the world they live in,” said Cosier. “I want the kids to feel empowered that they can help make a difference in the world.”

The summer reading program is a small way Cosier hopes to bring kids throughout the community closer to that goal.

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