By LISA OSBURN
News staff writer
Little feet soon will walk through the North Shelby library more frequently. School's out, and the library is pulling together resources to enhance its children's programs throughout the summer, said Darryl Heritage, library director. Beginning in June, each week will bring crafts, reading programs, and entertainment to the library. A new program coordinator has been hired part time to develop a more focused toddler program, Heritage said. Even with tight funding, the library's Board of Trustees has set a priority to buy more materials for children, hire a children's librarian and enhance programs. "We just want to have more materials, period, but of course children are our top priority," Heritage said. Since 1999, budget woes have hindered the library from expanding programs and buying materials. But recent grants and possibly an additional $30,000 to $40,000 expected from a new fee on businesses in the library district has created a sunnier financial picture. One of the biggest perks has been a Shelby County Community Enrichment Grant for $20,000. Also, Target just awarded the library a $2,500 grant for children's programming, Heritage said.
A $5,000 Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham grant allowed the library to hire Kristy Hearn to coordinate enhanced children's programs, especially at the toddler level. Hearn has taught that age group before and was a storyteller at another library before talking time off a few years ago for the birth of her son. "This library has so much growth potential," she said. "It really is exciting to be in at the start of a new children's program." Hearn said parents cannot get their children in the library early enough to start learning about the gifts books can bring.
"As a toddler, that is the age when their interest in literacy is emerging. Once they get into school, there are so many things that grab their attention," she said. The toddler age "is when they are forming their biggest identity. If you can get them at that age to start picking up a book, than that is wonderful." The library's Books Ahoy pro- gram will run from Saturday to July 11. A kickoff party is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the library.
The Birmingham News