From the Keene Sentinel, Sunday May 21
TROY — As the Gay-Kimball Library director was defending her budget and proposed repairs to the building at town meeting in March, something was floating in the back of her mind.
Hours earlier, Stephanie R. Charlefour had learned the small library she oversees was one of three recipients of a national grant that would flood its shelves with new books and other materials geared toward helping children learn and become strong readers.
Charlefour had applied for the grant from the Bookapalooza program, which is run by the Association of Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association. Each year since its inception in 2007, the program awards a variety of materials, including books and DVDs, to three public or school libraries in the United States.
Charlefour was excited, but couldn’t share her news at town meeting because it wasn’t yet public, she said.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is such a huge honor,’ ” she said. “But I couldn’t announce it publicly until I had gotten the go-ahead.”
Besides Troy’s Gay-Kimball Library, this year’s other grant recipients were the Yakama Nation Library in Toppenish, Wash., and the Lewiston Public Library in Lewiston, N.Y.
All three libraries have a great need for books and other materials to fulfill their missions, the library association news release says.
Troy’s library has experienced budget cuts, while at the same time the circulation of materials from its youth collection has increased 22 percent, according to the library association.
At town meeting this year voters failed to pass an amendment to add money to the library budget for hiring a part-time staff member to help meet demands for increased usage of programming at the library. They also approved only partial funding for the repairs.
Among other criteria, grant recipients had to demonstrate that the library and associated community needed the materials, and how the materials would be used to improve library services and programs to children, Charlefour said.
At the beginning of the month, 43 boxes arrived at the Troy library with about 1,500 children’s books, audio books, books with CDs, and DVDs.
They’ll be added to the shelves of the Gay-Kimball Library as soon as Charlefour can get them cataloged.
Despite the library’s small size, there will be room for the new books to co-exist with the current collection, according to Charlefour, who said there are currently 20,304 items spread among the library’s collections.
As an added bonus, the books arrived before the start of the library’s summer reading program, she said.
The library has a very limited budget for the purchase of new books and other materials, and it’s fantastic that this summer Troy children will have so many exciting books to look through, she said.
Aside from boosting the library’s youth collection, Charlefour said she plans to use the books for the library’s 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and pop-up library programs.
The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program provides parents the opportunity to check out kits of age-appropriate books from the library to read to their children.
The goal of the nationwide program is to promote reading to newborns, infants and toddlers, and to encourage parent-and-child bonding through reading, according to the 1,000 Books Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Nevada.
The pop-up libraries happen throughout the year at various locations, such as classrooms in Troy Elementary School and at summer recreation programs, according to Charlefour.
The program is a way to make sure books are getting out to children in the community, especially those who don’t have transportation to and from the library, she explained.
“We know that one of the best ways to set our children up for success in school is exposing them to as many books as we can,” she said.
As she sorts through the books, Charlefour said she’s finding some duplicate titles. The library will hold on to some of them to have more than one copy available for children to check out. The rest Charlefour hopes to distribute to local schools, along with some of the books that are geared toward middle- and high-school-aged students.
“I haven’t told them yet, so this will be a surprise to them when they read the paper Sunday,” she said.