Circus at the library: Step right up

Column by Kari May


You never know what each new day in the office will bring. A couple months ago, I was sitting in my office, and one of the librarians came back to tell me I had a visitor. A gentleman was ushered into my office, and he asked me if the library would consider hosting a circus on its grounds in July.

Now, one of my rules of library leadership is to give every question careful consideration before making my final answer — what seems like an impossibility at first glance often becomes possible when you get into the details. After getting more information from the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus representative, I called the president of the Elbert County Libraries Foundation and asked her if the foundation might be interested in this opportunity — a fundraiser for the foundation, and more exposure for the library in the community.

The final answer? The circus is coming! The caravan will pull into town early morning on July 21 and start putting up the tents and arranging the attractions. You are invited to watch the tent raising at 10 a.m. and stay for a tour of the grounds. Two performances will be held that afternoon, one at 2 and one at 4:30. Tickets are on sale at our library branches. Tickets are $6 for children and $10 for adults in advance; $7 and $13 at the door; children under 2 get in free.

I remember my first circus experience. I was 16 years old, and my dad took me and my brother to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus … in an arena similar to the Pepsi Center. The whole experience felt very cliche to me: My dad, recently divorced from my mom, was taking his kids out for a fun day and bought us treats like cotton candy and a souvenir program. I have never experienced a circus as originally intended, under the big top. So you can guess where you can find me on July 21!

There are, of course, books about circuses to enjoy while you wait for the big top to arrive. From Dr. Seuss' “If I Ran the Circus” and “Olivia Saves the Circus” for young children to mysteries for young readers such as “Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Circus Clown” or Nancy Drew's adventure in “The Ringmaster's Secret,” we have stories to delight all ages. For adults, check out the book or the movie, “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, or, for a different kind of circus, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.

Some days, with the crowds and the questions we hear at the library, we feel like we are participating in a circus! For one day this summer, we will actually host a circus. Buy your ticket and join us on July 21.

Kari May lives in Elizabeth and is the director of the Elbert County Library District. She can be contacted through the library at Visit the library at


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