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Library Reaches Out to Future Customers

They’re our customers of the future which is one reason outreach activities to children are a priority to the staff at the Springfield-Greene County Library District. And one recent example, the Library District’s partnership with the WIC program—the acronym stands for Women, Infants, Children—is receiving positive input from parents.

“Ten months into the program, we hear comments from parents about how cool it is for library staff to come to the clinic, that it makes so much sense to have storytimes at a place where parents and their children come to take classes,” said Nancee Dahms-Stinson, the library’s youth services coordinator.

“The library’s commitment to young children and families is an important part of our mission. Our librarians are the early literacy experts, so are ideally suited to help parents make sure their kids have the skills that will prepare them to learn to read when they enter school.”

Almost daily at WIC’s new location in the Jordan Valley Health Center, library staff present storytimes to the children. “We encourage the use of library cards and explain the importance of visits to the library,” she said. “We provide learning labs and display and talk about age-appropriate board and picture books and about parenting titles.” 

The Library District’s efforts are part of a community planning process called the Red Wagon Kids Plan. The plan, announced earlier this year, seeks to make sure that every child has a caring adult, a safe place, a healthy start, an effective education and a chance to help others.   

The means is a year-long school readiness project called Ready to Learn funded with a $574,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement.

The goal of Ready to Learn is to equip young children with readiness skills and knowledge “so that they enter school with the best opportunity to succeed from the start.”

The Library District and WIC aren’t alone in this noble endeavor. Other partners are Shady Dell Early Childhood Center, Burrell Behavioral Health, Mayor’s Commission for Children, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Parents as Teachers and the City of Springfield.

“It’s an incredible coalition of community resources, library ambassadors and children’s and parent advocates who have an amazing wealth of information and knowledge that benefits children and families ,” said Dahms-Stinson.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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