I dumped the backpack on the floor and started unzipping it. “Look what I got,” I called to my two-year-old, who came running from the living room. As I pulled out the backpack’s contents, he shrieked with delight and grabbed the first item within reach. We spent the next half hour on the kitchen floor, paging through bird guides, playing with finger puppets of cardinals and finches, and holding the bird binoculars up to our eyes, pretending to spot bald eagles. It may have been too cold to go outside, but the bird backpack I had checked out from the Delafield Public Library had brought spring to us.

In Wisconsin, spring can be a long time coming. In fact, I wait so long for spring to arrive that when it finally does return with all of its sights and sounds and smells, I don’t want to miss a thing. In case you feel the same way, here are a list of ideas for ways to celebrate spring with the help of the public library.

Let’s start with programs. Spring is a time for growth and development, and you can grow in mind and spirit when you attend a free program, presentation, or class at a local library. This month, Pewaukee Public Library is hosting two programs about the migration and care of butterflies- one for kids and one for adults. You can learn strategies to design a beautiful yard at the Elm Grove Public Library or create seed bombs at the Watertown Public Library. Town Hall Library is hosting a program on creating rain gardens and using rain barrels, while Brookfield Public Library has a program on the basics of growing your own vegetables. Discover nature in literature with readings of excerpts and poetry from acclaimed nature writers at the Alice Baker Library in Eagle. If you’re itching to get your fingers in the soil, find out how you can get involved with the comm-unity gardens at the libraries in Butler, New Berlin, and Watertown.

You can also take spring home with you. The Mukwonago Community Library offers Discover Backpacks for adults and families on bird-watching, wildflower hiking, and star gazing. Kids can check out science backpacks on birds, trees, flowers, and more at the Delafield Public Library to go on their own outdoor adventures. Are you a green thumb? If you’re starting a garden this year, you can take home a variety of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds from the seed libraries at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library in Whitewater and Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson. Encourage the whole family to play outside in the nice weather when you bring home some outdoor games. The libraries in Jefferson, Mukwonago, Whitewater, and Waterloo each have their own collection of outdoor games, including ring toss, giant dice, disc golf, and more.

If you live in Waukesha or Jefferson counties, your library card works at all 24 libraries in both counties, including all of the ones listed here. Find out more about the programs, classes, and materials available for you to check out by visiting a library, going onto a library’s website, or searching for materials and events in the online catalog at www.cafelibraries.org. Have a warm and enjoyable spring.

Jill Fuller is the coordinator of marketing and communications with the Bridges Library System, of which the Karl Junginger Memorial Library is a member.

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