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ALTON - From a folk concert to a “Write Your Own Obituary” class, the Hayner Public Library District has several upcoming programs and events scheduled for community members to enjoy.

“The library really is for everyone,” said Library Director Mary Cordes. “We’ve got something for everybody.”

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024, patrons are invited to stop by Jacoby Arts Center for “What a Wonderful World: An Evening with Mark Dvorak.” From 6:30–8:30 p.m., Dvorak will play different instruments, tell stories and engage with the audience. Dvorak has received the Folk Alliance Regional Midwest Lantern Bearer Award for his contributions to folk music and the arts.

“It's a folk concert for the entire family,” Cordes explained. “ He has a wonderful voice, he’s a great storyteller, and it’s free. It’s completely free. So we encourage everybody to come.”

There are only a few seats left, and registration is required. Call 1-800-613-3163 to register.

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On Friday, May 10, the Genealogy and Local History Library will host “An Evening with Thomas Jefferson” for the history buffs and those who want to learn more about America’s third president. Reenactor Kurt Smith will don the powdered wig to share information about Jefferson’s life, and Cordes noted that he is “fantastic.”

On Thursday, May 2, State Senator Erica Harriss will host traveling office hours at Hayner’s Alton Square Mall location. Her staff will be on hand to meet with constituents and answer questions. Cordes explained that the library tries to offer space for all local elected officials to host office hours, and these events are usually well-attended.

On Friday, May 3, the library’s monthly Bite-Size Science program returns to teach kids about science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Kids can pick up an interactive take-home kit to learn more about different STEAM concepts.

Cordes is especially excited for the “All the News That’s Fit to Print: Write Your Own Obituary” series that will take place on June 2 and June 22, 2024. Genealogist and local historian Reneé B. Johnson will host the classes and teach people about what makes a good obituary. While Cordes noted that no one likes to think about their own death, it could be helpful to have your own obituary prepared.

“At the Genealogy and Local History Library, one of the things when people are doing family research and family history is that obituaries hold so much information,” Cordes explained. “You can find out other relatives, you can find out groups that people belonged to, and it’s the last thing that probably most of us are going to have written about ourselves, so it’s really important to put in that information that you want.”

In the meantime, Cordes hopes people will also take advantage of the library’s one-on-one technology tutoring, as well as the mental health classes they offer in partnership with Sacred Spaces of CARE. Their upcoming Trauma and Awareness Training is scheduled for May 29, 2024. The Hayner Public Library District can also help you connect with the statewide Illinois Emerging Writers competition, which was won by one of the library’s staff members in 2019.

There are several more events, programs and activities on Hayner’s calendar, and you can read their quarterly newsletter or sign up for their email newsletter online. For more information, visit their Facebook page or check out their official website at

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