The three Gibson siblings raced from bookshelf to bookshelf in the Mountain View Public Library on Monday, madly seeking out as many facts as possible.
The elementary school-aged kids were participating in "Librology," one of several free activities for children at the public library this summer. As part of the game, participants pick random questions from a box about science or history — for example, they might be asked to "name the explorer who claimed Brazil for Portugal" — then they comb through library resources to find the answers.
"It keeps your mind fresh during the summer," said Tatiana Gibson, an incoming sixth grader at Almond Elementary School.
Karin Bricker, head of children and youth services at the library, said the downtown facility has seen a big increase in use by children over the summer, as have most other local libraries. The reason, she said, is that fewer families are traveling this summer due to the poor economy.
"People are staying home and they are rediscovering reading," she said. "It's great."
As a result, the downtown library's three main programs for children — Librology, Summer Reading and Reading Families — have seen huge jumps in participation. Reading Families, the library's most popular program (in which the whole family signs up to read together), now has 560 families participating, up 25 percent from last year.
On Tuesday mornings at 10:15 a.m., the families meet at the library for a concert, puppet show or similar event. The activities have grown so popular, with crowds of up to 400 people, that they are now being held outside.
Meanwhile, the Summer Reading program, where kids make individual goals about how many books they can read during their nine weeks of vacation, has 1,280 children signed up this summer, a 16 percent increase from last year.
Once the kids meet their goals, they add their stickers to a Spanish-style mosaic being put together by the librarians. With more kids than ever participating, the mosaic is growing larger than usual.
"The goal of the summer is to be creative," Bricker said.