Monday, July 27, 2015

Starting a Simple Libray-Parks Partnership

Libraries and parks are usually  run by different city departments, and as far as I can tell  are oriented towards their own activities and  rarely work together.

I talked with Robin Bolewski of the Marcellus Free Library and she said something to the effect that when she first broached the idea of a Little Free Library in the town  park, the parks dept said “No Way”. The library director then brought the idea to “their boss”, the town council who said great idea, lets do it. It has become such a success that the towns library and park are now working on other cooperative projects to benefit the community.

-A bluegrass  concert by Causual Plaid t the Marcellus Free  Library was paid for  by Marcellus Park

-Once a week, the Marcellus Parks kids play program now takes a field  trip to the Marcellus Free Library  library  to learn reading skills.

Here's some ideas on how to cultivate simple low cost  library-parks partnerships that can blossom into larger ones over time.

Parks as Outdoor Reading Rooms

 Having libraries create  Outdoor Reading Rooms in Parks can help our libraries in their gola of increasing childhood literacy.

-“Research consistently shows that children who live in low-income neighborhoods have little access to reading material in their public libraries, in their schools, and at home.....If more access leads to more reading, and if more reading leads to better reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and a larger vocabulary (for overwhelming evidence, see Krashen, 2004), this means that the first step any literacy campaign needs to take is to make sure children have access to plenty of books. Link

 Here are 2 ways to craete outdoor reading rooms in parks...

-Branch libraries can ask  permission of the parks department to install  Little Free Library in  parks nearby libraries.
-Little Free Libraries work on the take a book/leave a book concept,  that means restocking often. A simpler way may be to install  Bird Feeder for Readers.  Bird Feeders for Readers  allow children to look at books and magazines while in a park. But they also let the kids know that the publications are non-circulating, for use only within the park.

-Housing for a Little Free Library  or Bird Feeder for Readers can cost anywhere from under $50, to several hundred dollars.

This Little Free Library cost several hundred dollars. .

This Bird Feeder for Reader's cost less than $50 to create.

Parks as Outdoor Library Program Spaces

-Neighborhood parks often offer park goers space but no programs. Whereas branch libraries offer programs but are often short on program space, Nearby parks can offer libraries large program spaces.
A good library program to hold in a park is a storytelling.

Co Marketing of Library and parks Colloborations.

 Co-market activities as Washington Park and Cincinnati Library did for a Storytelling in the Park.
  Colorful posters at both Library and Park, tout partnership.


 Libraries as Parks Indoor Program Spaces
 - As Robin said above, once a week, the parks kids play program now takes a field  trip to the library  to learn reading skills.

 Our parks mostly offer kids active recreation, these library field  trips help get the kids more learning recreation. . 

Libraries as Parkhouses from nearby Parks 

A library can start to partner  with a nearby park by loaning simple low cost  sports recreation equipment of use in that park. 

“Our (Maine) Library checks out basketballs to be used on the courts near the library We also have frisbees, jump ropes and hacky sacks available to borrow. The balls have been replaced many times through the years and have resulted in much good will with the kids afterschool. When they (the kids!) start bouncing off the walls, we suggest they bounce a basketball instead. We don’t require a card, just something of value like a backpack, instrument, cell phone, laptop. This is never a problem because the kids are only too happy to off load their stuff and let us keep an eye on it.”  link

Backpacks loaned out at the York, Maine Library include this nature exploration kit with a butterfly net, butterfly puppet, magnifying lenses, books about butterflies, a log book, a CD about butterflies, plant identification cards and a book with butterfly information.

, New York Public Library Tompkins Square Branch loans chess and other board games for in library use. Just leave your library card at circulation desk. No reason it can't use the same model to loan Hula hoops, Scrabble , basketballs, jump ropes and Ping Pong Paddles/balls for use at adjacent Tompkins Square Park.


 Loaning ping pong equipment from Tompkins Square Library would add to the usefulness of this ping pong table in adjacent Tompkins Square Park. BTW I buy ping pong equipment for $1.29 at a 99 Cent shop, so cost is low.

Libraries as Special Needs Recreation Parkhouses

having a library system offer  a full array of special needs recreation equipment is a major undertaking.

As a starter offering a few special needs recreation items at branch is pretty simple. The following 4 items from Fat Brain Toys cover 22 different special needs.

Bilibo $27 Downs  ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, Autism,, Sensory Integration Disorder

Learning Disabilities, Sensory Integration Disorder, Speech & Language Delay, Vision Impairment

 Checker Rug $14.95 Hearing Impairment, Vision Impairment

  Magnetic Supermind $25  Aprraxia, ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Delay, Learning Disabilities, Sensory Integration Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury 

Peanut Ball $42.99  Developmental Delay, Hydrocephalus, Mental Retardation, Sensory Integration Disorder, Speech & Language Delay 

A little over $100 will get a library these 4 items.