By Mark Carlisle
Glendale librarians are planning how they’ll spend $56,000 in grant money.
The city’s library system was awarded three grants that Glendale will use to provide new programming for seniors, backpacks filled with educational hiking materials that residents can check out and a heroes-themed book collection for the new Heroes Regional Park Branch Library, which will open in the spring.
Chief librarian Michael Beck commended library administrator Dawn Wasley and administrative librarians Kathy Curley, Kristin Fletcher-Spear and Greg Kinder for their work writing the grants, which are federal funds that are filtered through the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.
“It’s rare that a library will get two awards, and we went three for three,” Mr. Beck said at the Wednesday Sept. 12 Library Advisory Board meeting where staff revealed plan specifics about the grants’ uses to the board.
The largest grant, for $24,500, was for Discovery & Exploration Backpacks containing trails and educational books and tools meant to be taken on hiking trails. The grant will fund 40 waterproof backpacks across the city’s four libraries as well as some programming related to the backpacks.
“Our goal for this grant is to give our community the opportunity to get out, get a little exercise, explore the wonderful park systems that we have, maybe learn a little about some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), about star gazing about wildlife, other science- and nature-related subjects,” Mr. Kinder said.
Each library will have 10 backpacks with five different themes — two to each theme. Two of the five themes will be geared toward children while three are geared toward adults. They will not be available until January or February.
Each pack will have trail guides supplied by Glendale’s Parks and Recreation department.
One of the children’s packs will be a bug and insect discovery pack with an educational book about bugs, bug catcher tongs, a magnified viewing containers, a butterfly net, a flashlight and tweezers. Mr. Kinder said he hopes children would set the bugs free after viewing them.
The other children’s pack with be wildlife focused with binoculars, a flashlight, a compass and a magnifying glass.
Each of the three adult packs will include a walking stick.
There will also be an adult pack geared toward wildlife, with guides of different animals and plants that can be seen on local trails.
Another adult pack will be designed for star gazing, a portable telescope, binoculars and an astronomy guide.
Each pack will include a laminated check lists that librarians will review to make sure all the items were returned, but the library will have some replacement items available if one is lost or broken. Each pack will also have a survey for residents to give feedback about their experience.
Librarians will be encouraged to promote the backpacks to library-goers.
Some programming, funded by the grant, will also accompany the backpacks. Planned topics include stargazing, wildlife photography, wildlife encounter programs and considerations for hiking with a dog.
Programming for seniors
Glendale received $12,900 in grant funds toward programming for seniors, ages 55 and older.
“We started this because the libraries have craft programs that are very popular. And they all fill up every single time we have them and they’re almost all retired women, who are just wanting to craft and wanting to get involved,” Ms. Fletcher-Spear said. “And we decided that we want to give them an extra, higher level than what we can do as librarians.”
This program will bring in professional artists and educators to teach craft classes. Ms. Fletcher-Spear said she would often look on Pinterest to learn crafts she felt confident she can teach to a class.
One popular craft among Glendale libraries that the grant will fund is canvas painting, which Ms. Fletcher-Spear noted is expensive.
At least 38 programs are planned across the city’s four libraries. Classes will be spread across daytime, evenings and weekends.
“Our goals are to increase social engagement with the seniors, increase their creative skills and also I want to see if the patrons use the library more,” Ms. Fletcher-Spear said, noting she’ll look at the stats before and after the year to see if seniors are checking out more items.
Glendale’s newest library is receiving a unique book collection, thanks to an $18,600 grant awarded to the city.
The theme of the “Heroes” collection for the Heroes Branch Library, at the corner of 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road, is “Find a hero, be your own hero.”
The first two parts of the three-part collection will be geared toward the first half of the theme: a graphic novel collection, filled largely with tales of super heroes, and a biography collection will aim to help readers of all ages discover heroes real and fictional. The third part of the collection will be a collection of vocational books, aimed to help readers “be their own heroes” by working toward the career they want.
“What do you want to do with your life?” Ms. Curley said. “Who’s your hero? Is it Larry Fitzgerald? Do you want to be a football player? What do you know about playing football? Do you want to be a firefighter? What do you know about firefighting?”
She suggested stocking biographies of famous firefighters, such as those who saved lives on 9/11.
The collection will also feature an online database called JobNow. It is a new service from Brainfuse, a website that provides HelpNow, an online tutoring service that is currently available at Glendale libraries.
“It provides online interviewing services,” Ms. Curley said of JobNow. “So, if you have a job interview coming up and you need some coaching, you can go onto this database and you can work online with a live coach.”
HelpNow works the same way, but with tutors for students as well as educational resources for adults.
The collections vocational books would be more specific than typical resume-writing books found at any library branch. Ms. Curley is looking into career-oriented encyclopedias with volumes targeted to certain career type. She used the example of a volume on the service industry for a resident wanting to become a restaurateur.
While the biographies help readers identify a goal, the JobNow database and vocational book collection are meant to help readers live out those dreams.
“Then go beyond that and provide those vocational resources so people who want to live a life similar to role models can find out how to do that,” Ms. Curley said.
With some of the grant money, the library will also look to put on job fair-like programming where local heroes come together to inspire young people. A board member recommended coordinating with nearby Luke Air Force Base.
Glendale applied for these grants through the Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s office by describing the programs or materials the library would purchase with the funding, and Ms. Reagan’s office awarded the library funds based on those ideas.