The Florence Community Library recently received funding from the Arizona State Library Grants-in-Aid Construction Program to assist in the construction of the children’s collection area of the new library facility. The children’s area is funded, in part, with $99,280.00 granted by the Arizona State Library under the program. The cost to construct the children’s area is approximately $198,560.00 and will include shelving space for the book collection; an area for interactive displays for toddlers; and several seating areas for reading, learning, and group activities.
Rosemary Bebris, director of the Florence Community Library, said the grant will help the library create a space where young readers and their families can be connected to outstanding library service.
Bebris said, “Libraries can play a key role in the development of early literacy skills in children, setting the stage for future success at school. The new children’s collection area will provide families with a comfortable, modern place to explore an expanded children’s collection and participate in quality programming designed to support emerging literacy.”
The new library will occupy almost 13,000 square feet when it is completed this year, more than double its current size. The children’s area in the existing library is very small and only allows seating for two adults. The children’s area in the new facility will allow library staff to expand the children’s book collection and programming.
Rita Marquez is the children’s librarian at the Florence Community Library and is responsible for a number of children’s programs including the weekly Family Storytime for young children. She incorporates music into many of the books she shares with children and uses kid-tested literature-based learning activities and techniques. Rita started a digital Family Storytime that is held once a month using the library’s 10 iPads. The program was developed for 6 to 8 year olds and Rita researches free apps for books and includes music, crafts, and snacks into the class. Rita also visits the Anthem pre-school once a month to present Family Storytime to the children where she uses finger plays, dancing, music and crafts to engage the children. Rita says it gives her first-hand knowledge in the classroom, and a true appreciation for the teacher and aides who do such an outstanding job with the children. The experience makes her want to be a better educator.
The library hosts morning and afternoon classes once a month for story time with Head Start. Students from the Education Professions Program at Florence High School help with the afternoon classes. The high school students not only learn about childhood development and lesson planning, but what it takes to put on a complete Family Storytime. Rita also serves on the Education Professions Advisory Commission at the high school where they meet quarterly to discuss ideas for the high school students enrolled in the class.
The Florence Community Library staff looks forward to providing additional programming in the new library facility once it is complete. As Rita states, “I love my job! I love the day-to-day challenge it takes to create programs that are educational, relevant, meaningful, and a whole lot of fun! I look forward to moving to the new library where we can expand programs to serve more families in the Florence community.”