Beyond the Book Cover: Lawrence Public Library
When children’s book author Emilie Buchwald said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents,” she was expressing the very philosophy of local professional Betsy Crawford. In fact, Crawford has spent the past 26 years passionately promoting early literacy through her role as a children’s librarian, the last six of which have been as a regional manager for the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (I-MCPL). She is also branch manager for the Lawrence location, which serves Geist residents and surrounding communities.
“Reading is absolutely one of the best things you can do for your child or the children in your life,” Crawford says. “And summertime is one of the best times for kids to find out more about their own special interests through reading and spending time at the local library.”
The Lawrence Branch has, indeed, made early literacy one of its main areas of focus for programming, in spite of the fact that the library system has faced the same problems as so many other libraries throughout the country: a loss of revenue from property tax caps and a reduction in tax collections due to the economic slump.
“We’ve been struggling just like everyone else,” explains Crawford. “We had to reduce public service hours last October, but our programs and services remain strong, and we will continue to provide for our patrons to the best of our ability.”
The shorter service hours, however, have not negatively affected the branch’s ability to offer the annual summer reading program that so many patrons look forward to. “Our theme this year is 2011 Science Odyssey, and our prizes are fantastic, thanks to our donors and sponsors,” says Crawford.
As one of the busiest of the 22 branches within the I-MCPL system, the Lawrence location employs seven librarians, nine clerks, 12 pages (re-shelvers), four summer staff and 12 volunteers. “Our branch is a busy one,” Crawford adds. “Our computer usage is up, which is typical not only because of the increase in user know-how, but also because of the amount of job searching going on.”
But computers and books aren’t the only things that keep residents coming back for more. One of the services that might not be so well-known is an online database that allows users to access the full text of a variety of traditional resources, like reference books, biographies and encyclopedias, as well as magazine and newspaper articles.
“This is incredibly helpful for those who need references from an actual book or publication for research papers or projects, but don’t necessarily want to come in and look it up the old-fashioned way,” says Ann Grilliot, assistant branch manager. “We hope to see usage increase, as it is easily accessible and so beneficial!”
Other programs that patrons can take advantage of include:
- Kites of Afghanistan – Connect with Middle Eastern children by learning about the gudiparan bazi, or “flying doll” of Afghanistan and the tradition of “kite flying.” Natural reeds and colored paper are used to make flyable kites using popular Afghani designs. Scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 2 p.m.
- Middle Eastern Dance – On Saturday, Aug. 20, Diana Najjar will lead an interactive workshop for families and adults on Middle Eastern folk dancing. It will focus on different styles of traditional Arabic dance and include costume samples worn by the dancers.
- Paws to Read – This program offers an opportunity for young reluctant readers to read aloud to a registered therapy dog who is trained to listen to stories. This helps improve reading skills and self-confidence in a safe, fun environment.
- Baby Bunny Book Bags – This allows parents of small children to borrow books with ease. Pre-selected and prepackaged books are available for three weeks, with no fines involved. Patrons can choose from three types of book bags: The Original, which comes with 20 picture books for preschoolers; Bolso de Libros para Conejitos, which includes 20 picture books in Spanish for preschoolers; and Baby Makes Three, which includes 12 board books for babies and toddlers.
- Summer Reading Program – Every year children and adults can participate in a themed program throughout the summer months, which includes extensive prizes for reaching reading goals.
- Story Time – Special times to share stories with young readers are held weekly throughout the year.
- Book Discussions – Adult book discussions focused on specific books are held on the third Tuesday of the month from September through June each year. Check online to find out details.
Additional programs and services are available at the Lawrence branch, which is located at 7898 N. Hague Road, Indianapolis. For more information visit www.imcpl.org or call 317-275-4460.