Enriching Our Children’s Collection

Photo credit: Chen Mizrach at Unsplash

Earlier this year, Baxter Memorial Library was selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. The competitive award came with a $3,000 grant to help BML support area youth, including those being educated at home, with an updated and enhanced collection of educational materials and other resources.

Originally, the focus was on the homeschooling community in the area, so we held a virtual discussion with homeschoolers to find out what would enrich their homeschooling experiences. After that discussion, we decided to open it up to suggestions from all families.  We crafted a survey that asked what Sharon families would like to find when they walk into the library – what would make the library more appealing and more useful for them, especially when it comes to educational resources – and not surprisingly, the answers from both groups were nearly identical: themed learning kits and equipment available to check out were the clear winners, with an inviting children’s area, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) resources, more nonfiction children’s books, and board games also making a show. 

Sounds great!  Now, where to begin?

First, we’ll be creating themed kits and adding them to the collection in the coming months.  Imagine being able to check out books on bird identification, along with binoculars, a notebook for observations, and a CD filled with birdsongs.  Or, checking out a book on yoga for kids that comes with a mat and cards showing the positions, or books on gardening that come with gardening tools, or books on addition and subtraction that come with fun math games, or even books on juggling that come with balls!  How cool is that? 

Next, we’ll put out a call for fun equipment that might be languishing in closets or basements so that we can begin circulating outdoor/sports gear, microscopes, art supplies, and whatever else comes our way.  We’ll also adorn the children’s area with cushions for the sitting nook, more soft seating for little readers, and children’s book-themed decor. Finally, we’ll add more nonfiction books, puzzles, and educational (and fun!) board games for checkout. 

Happily, we’ve received additional American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant money from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Vermont Department of Libraries which will allow us to purchase STEAM and makerspace resources in the coming months. Look for robotics, coding, engineering, and architechtural toys, as well as lots of fun art and craft supplies to be added very soon!

Thank you for helping us to reimagine what our children’s area can be! 2022 is already shaping up to be a spectacular year at Baxter Memorial Library!