Next LEAF grant could furnish children’s room

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

Last year we reached out to the community to support our application to The Commonwell LEAF (Learning and Engagement Accelerator Fund). We were thrilled by the enthusiastic response and comments from library patrons all across Prince Edward County.

We were awarded $100,000 to help support teen spaces in the Picton Branch Library. This year we had the opportunity to apply for a new project – “Early Learning and Literacy for Everyone”.

As the American Library Association explains, “Early childhood learning is the basic building block of success in life. Children with quality early learning experiences do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and are less likely to commit crime. But, too many children fall behind before they enter kindergarten and never catch up. Libraries are trusted leaders in boosting early learning and strengthening K–12 school learning.”

This project will furnish the Picton Branch Library’s children’s room with interactive reading nooks and display furniture for books, inspiring children to curl up and read.

Additionally, it will add a dramatic play area to encourage role play, developing empathy, vocabulary and creativity. A science corner will include a light table to encourage hands on learning and exploration of colour mixing, observation skills and more – developing the essential STEAM skills for school, as well as child-friendly microscopes to allow toddlers and young children to investigate the world around them in a whole new way, introducing fundamental science concepts.

The public library is one space in the community which is open to everyone at no cost, meaning that no one is excluded from exploring and learning. This project will help “level the playing field” during the crucial early learning years. Children who are introduced to the library early often go on to stay life-long learners and library users, and the library will continue to support them throughout their life.

People in their 80s who received library cards as children still come into the library to learn about technology and other topics of interest.

The library’s early learning programs, including 1000 Books Before Kindergarten and baby storytime are well-received but there is a crucial need for baby and toddler friendly furniture and resources. This project is an opportunity for us to have a well-equipped early learning space when the library expansion and renovation is complete. The space will serve children and their grown ups for generations to come!

Please consider supporting our project! Visit thecommonwell.ca/leaf , search “Picton” and add your comment.

-Liz Zylstra