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Library gets kids hooked on books

For more than a decade, the Jessamine County Public Library has partnered with the local public schools to introduce children to the library at an early age through its First Card program to get library cards into the hands of first-graders.

“We want them to be lifelong library users,” Rachel Staub, the JCPL interim children’s services librarian said.

Most years, members of the library staff visit the schools and distribute backpacks containing children’s books and other items as well as information on how to sign up for their first card.

“We have a couple minutes spiel that we give the kids and get them excited about the library, and they’ll get their bags when the teacher says the time is right, and they can take them home and get into them,” Staub said.

This year, the staff had hoped that, instead of going into the classrooms, they could bring all the kids into the library and give them a mini-tour. But because of the risks of spreading COVID, they had to do things differently.

Two of the children’s services outreach librarians, Katie Block and Heather Lee, working with other members of the staff, instead made a video about the library so they would know what to expect when they visit and maybe even recognize some of the faces of those they might meet.

Last week, the kids were able to watch the video on YouTube with their classes, either in person or virtually, and each was given a backpack containing a book, headphones they can use in class or on the library’s computers and other devices, a wallet, on-grade-level book recommendations, and information on how to obtain a library card.

“This year we prepared just under 600 bags for the six elementary schools that we serve every year, and we also provide some for home school families,” Staub said.

When she talked about the program last Wednesday, she said, some of the kids had already gotten their backpacks. The teachers wasted no time getting them into the kids’ hands.

Staub was looking forward to seeing some of those kids come in and sign up and see what the Public Library has to offer.

“We really want kids to come feel like a part of our library community and get their own library card so they can get access to the wealth of materials that we have,” she said.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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