Eleven Libraries Receive Grant
Junker, Leann, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Elina Filander feels likes she's won a supermarket sweepstakes.
The director at Bentleyville Public Library, she has been unpacking boxes full of new items that will be used in the children's area.
Bentleyville, California Area, and Monongahela Area libraries were among five libraries in Washington County and six in Westmoreland that received a Preschool Connections grant funded with federal Library Services and Technology Act money administered by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.
Each received $3,000 to spend on items to enhance educational opportunities for children from birth to age 5.
To qualify, librarians were required to write a grant application and send pictures, sharing a vision for the children's area of the library. Then they also had to agree to attend four meetings where infant/toddler and family literacy were discussed.
"The Preschool Connections grant is a wonderful, wonderful thing, I think, because it allows us to make a commitment to enriching our resources for children," Filander said. "You go to these trainings and get all these wonderful materials that otherwise would cost you hundreds of dollars."
When you operate on a small budget like the Bentleyville library does, you can't justify making these kinds of purchases, Filander added.
The libraries received items at each of the meetings. Among them were books on parenting, board books for small hands and fun items like a palm tree and letters that can be used along with the story "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.
"For a library, we don't have a lot of money for supplementals," Filander said.
Flannel boards with nursery rhyme characters have been useful, she added.
"So many kids today are character-savvy. They know Dora. They know Diego, but they really don't know things that are part of cultural literacy," said Filander, explaining that many children miss out on learning about traditional nursery rhymes.
The supplemental items make the children's area more inviting and buy some time for parents who have business at the library.
"A lot of times families are afraid of libraries for their younger children because they think, 'Oh, if they rip the book, I'm going to get charged a fine," said Filander.
Instead, she'd like families to think about opening up new opportunities for little ones.
"Libraries can bring you books about big cities, about foreign places at an early age, so it stimulates the child's interest in some of those areas," she said. …