Splash: Books? That’s just the beginning of Caestecker check-outs

Caestecker Public Library Director Linda DeNell and Assistant Director Christina weed and prune some of the flowers, herbs and vegetables in the demonstration garden.
Hannah Tetzlaff photo

by Hannah Tetzlaff

It may be hot and humid in July, but it felt like Christmas to me.

Outdoor adventure backpacks, metal detector, telescope, extractigator, bird spotting kit and much more.

As Caestecker Public Library Director Linda DeNell listed objects you could check out at the Caestecker Public Library, 518 Hill St., I became like a child during the holidays, wanting to play with every toy and thing-a-ma-jig after tearing open the presents.

With an object called “extractigator,” I was surprised I didn’t find myself in Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

DeNell wasn’t joking. “We’ve got all kinds of crazy stuff you can check out at the library.” After hearing her list, I believed her.

There were all sorts of objects and tools.

One that my itchy fingers wanted to grab and check out was the telescope, especially after DeNell mentioned an upcoming lunar eclipse Friday, July 27.

She said it would be a useful tool to check out if a family is planning to enjoy the out-of-doors.

“It’s fun because if you’re going to go camping … and you’ve got some kids that need to learn ‘That’s the North Star’ and ‘That’s the Big Dipper,’” she said.

Besides pointing out stars and constellations, people can search for comets and planets.

When DeNell checked out the telescope, she was able to find a couple of Saturn’s moons.

The metal detector is another tool that visitors have checked out to search for lost treasures in their backyards.

Or, folks can borrow it to explore beaches and see what they can find.

Families interested in hiking through the woods may find outdoor adventure backpacks the perfect fit for their kids.

The knapsacks are stuffed with a journal, pencil and some DNR wild cards that the youth can keep along with a compass, binoculars, measuring tape for animal tracks and field guides on wildflowers, trees, birds and animals.

“There’s enough stuff to keep things interesting for a week, but not so much stuff that it gets overwhelming having to keep track of everything in there,” DeNell said.

Groups venturing out into the woods may appreciate a bird-monitoring kit that includes 15 binoculars, five field guides and a spotting scope.

DeNell suggests families looking for something else to do in the area may borrow disc golf gear and play a few games at either Zobel Memorial County Park at the southside of Green Lake off of Highway 49, at the Green Lake Conference Center, Murray Park on the east side of Ripon and Riggs County Park by Ripon’s south side.

A popular activity for adults and their kids is checking out the fishing poles and gear and heading to the wharf by Deacon Mills Park or to the Mill Pond by Sunset Park in Green Lake.

“There’s lures in there, sinkers, bobbers, the stuff that you need,” DeNell said. “Kids under 16 don’t need a fishing license, [and] it’s a great way for somebody, like grandparents, to take the kids out fishing when they visit or just try something out and see if you like it before investing money into it.”

She added some years fishing is especially appealing to youngsters.

“Last year, there were a couple of kids who came in every day checking … [fishing poles] out,” DeNell said.

Though all the gear and objects caught my eye­ — I’ll definitely be back to check them out — most surprising for me were all the gardening tools and seeds.

I’d never heard of a library where I could just walk in and check out seeds or a tool that sounds like a Dr. Seuss invention.

“‘Extractigator;’ Doesn’t that sound impressive?” DeNell said. “It’s for pulling buckthorn, honeysuckle and other woody plants that are either invasive or undesirable in your space. It works pretty well.”

The extractigator isn’t the only gardening gadget the library offers.

“We’ve got a tool sharpener … [and] a soil test thing, so it can check moisture level and pH because it is important to know the pH of your soil,” DeNell said. “There’s something that you can tuck into your garden and leave out for 12 hours on a typical day and that tells you how much sunlight that gets, so you would know if you should be planting things that would be good for full sun, part shade or full shade.”

However, all the gardening contraptions and gizmos in the world can’t help you if it’s hard for you — as it is for me — to tell the difference between a vegetable and a weed.

To help with this issue, the library created a demonstration garden.

“This year we added that, so people that have been checking seeds out from us can now take a look if they’re not that familiar with growing things,” DeNell said. “It’s like ‘Oh, it doesn’t have to go on the ground; it can go on a raised bed thing and I don’t have to get a sore back weeding.’ ‘Oh, that’s what it looks like when it comes up.’ Not everyone knows what a basil plant is suppose to look like, or ‘Is that really arugula or a weed?’”

Whether you’re new to gardening or an old hand at it, the library has many things you may need.


During summer school, the library offers events for youth.

Mondays, special performers entertain the audiences.

One of the most popular acts scheduled is, “a guy coming to do giant bubbles, and I’m not quite sure how that is going to go but there is an insane number of people interested,” DeNell said. “Who knew that a giant bubble show would be the biggest thing that we’ve [hosted.]”

Another repeat favorite is Noelle Tarrant and her Zoozort. She brings wild animals to show the kids such as a fennec fox, huge snake, giant tortoise, wallaby, coatimundi and tarantula.

“She just recently obtained a ring-tail lemur, but I don’t know if the lemur is going to be out and about yet or if he is getting adjusted to his new surroundings,” DeNell said.

Legos and littleBits toy building pieces are set out Wednesday mornings for the kids to enjoy.

The library has an afternoon matinee on Thursdays, so if it rains or if it becomes too hot, families may come in with their children and watch a movie.

“Because the library’s summer reading theme is ‘Library Rocks,’ kind of a music theme, we’re showing musicals,” DeNell said. It showed “Grease” on July 12 and started with “Mary Poppins.”

She added children are not the only ones for whom the library has geared programs and activities. Adults may enjoy a few events and activities at the library at night or on the weekends.

With a plethora of items available at the library, wherever your interests may lie there is always something you can check out to meet your interests.