The community room in the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library becomes a mixture of Legos and imaginations every third Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Lego pieces lay around the room on long tables. Children huddle around the rows of small building blocks. They are encouraged to work together. Many crowd around small and large pieces alike.
“This is a giant evil base,” said Nathaniel York. “It is going to be way better than the Death Star.”
York is working with a group of four boys. Following his comment a head pops up, “Wait! I didn’t know this was an evil base. I’m not evil, I’m good!”
Soon the noises of fake explosions, car sounds, and gunfire impressions replace any disagreements. The boys are once again lost in their imaginations. Before them rests a conglomeration of Lego pieces spreading the width of the table.
“I’ve always loved building with Legos,” said librarian Rebeckah Coleman. “I wanted to see their imaginations grow, and for them to understand they can build without instructions.”
A grant from Dollar General allowed the library to buy $600 worth of Legos in early 2012. The kickoff party occurred in February. Kids ages 7-11 watched “Lego Star Wars” and ate cake before playing with the new Legos.
“I do not have instruction sheets out for them. I said, OK our theme today is ‘Star Wars,’” Coleman said. “We will have an art show on Nov. 3 and 4. All of their work will be showcased.”
Finished Lego pieces will be on display in the community room during the Art Show. Pictures of the kids will line the walls. Coleman snapped the photos every month, except for June and July, since February.
“Along the sides we are going to have ‘mega-blocks’ for the little kids to play with and Duplos,” Coleman said. “There will be even more Legos so the parents can get involved and build some with their children.”
Coleman said parents are encouraged to drop their children off in the community room for normal club meetings.
“We would like the parents to stay in the building. They are strongly encouraged to hang out in the library, but not in the community room. This allows whatever the children are building to be a surprise for their parents,” Coleman said.
All children ages 7-11 are welcomed to join the club at any time. Boys and girls play side by side. The girls are more than a little outnumbered.
“My brother lets me play with his Legos at home,” said Maney Willard.
Before her proudly sits a Lego building. The tiny bricks are an organized bunch in contrast to the surrounding mayhem.
Down the table rests another Lego creation in front of Dallas Taynor and Christopher Coleman. A battle between good and evil is forming under the hands and focus of the two young boys.
“... and we need a pond next to the farmer,” Taynor said to Coleman.
When asked why, Taynor’s pragmatic response was, “We need food for the good guys.”
Inside the good guys’ compound rests a truck loaded down with diamonds. Bad guys are spilling in the building to steal the riches.
“Wait! It’s not finished yet,” Taynor said. “We need to find a bike. ... Anyone have a bike?”
Ramps are placed on either side of the Lego compound. A motorcycle is found for the bad guy and he takes off over the good guys. His face is attacked by a crab from the farmer’s pond.
“They have been making these since April,” Coleman said. “It depends on the kid how long they stay. Sometimes they come in and 10 minutes later they are finished. Other times, it’s an hour and a half later and we are saying, ‘OK, you have to go now.’”
The Lego club is part of the library’s plan to have an activity for every age. Coleman said the club is a year-round activity, with the exception of June and July. The summer months are taken off due to reading programs.
Anyone interested in having their children participate need only bring their kids to a meeting. There are still two more months before the art show. The next meeting will be on Sept. 18.
“I have two boys and you give them a box of Legos and the stuff they dream up just amazes me,” Coleman said. “I had a few who at first did not know what to do without direction. I tell them, ‘You just build. Use your imaginations.’”