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Thursday, June 9, 2011 11:30 pm

North side children’s library moves ahead with $20,000 grant

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Children and families on the north side of Springfield will soon have a library next door.

A committee made up of church members at Third Presbyterian Church and local residents will open the Northside Community Children’s Library at the church in the fall, hoping to fill the void left by north and west branches after both libraries have shut their doors.

“I think it’s important they (children) have a place they feel safe for them to go,” says Sandi Woodard, co-chair of the administrative subcommittee. “That there’s going to be someone who is going to be there who will listen to them.”

The library will open in early September Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon in the basement of Third Presbyterian Church, 1030 N. Seventh. St. The library welcomes children preschool age through eighth grade to come for tutoring help, access to computers and electronic books, and snacks.

“There’s something about having a book in your hand. I’m an avid reader and I just want to see children learn what they can get from a book,” says Woodard.

The library is a product of a brainstorming session at the church nearly two years ago and then a task force meeting in December 2010, according to Bonnie Douglas, who was a member of the original library exploratory committee.    

“Then, things took off,” says Douglas, in what she calls a “grass roots” effort by people who care about the neighborhood.

McClernand Elementary Principal Jennifer Gill is excited that children will be within walking distance of the new library, and calls it, “a great addition to our neighborhood.” Gill has attended Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association meetings and wants to help Third Presbyterian Church promote the library and get schoolchildren involved in the fall.

Woodard wants to collect reading lists from area schools like McClernand Elementary, so the library can carry the books that children will read in school when it opens in the fall.

“If we plant the seed, that’s the important thing,” says Woodard. “Plant it and try to nurture it.”

The Third Presbyterian Church received a $20,000 grant from the Presbytery of Great Rivers, June 7, which will round out a near $32,000 budget. The library will not be charged rent from the church. The committee of 12 plans to set up a board of directors soon.

Woodard says the church tried to be very practical in setting up the library, opting for donations. The library received furnishings and shelves from Benedictine University in Springfield, and $300 total from Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, Oak Ridge Neighborhood Association and Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association to buy books.

“Since the north side branch closed, this was a great way for the kids to have a place to go,” says Dave Clark, president of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association. Clark adds that the library will make the north side more desirable and may encourage more people to move to the area. The Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association plans to advertise the library in its newsletter and may sponsor a reading corner at the library, says Clark.

The children’s library is currently accepting applications for a part-time library coordinator. Those interested may contact Woodard at Third Presbyterian Church at 528-0457 or pick up an application at 1030 N. Seventh St. The library is also accepting donations of furnishings and books, as well as volunteers to tutor children in the fall.

“I really do feel that the public is behind us and very interested and that makes this very, very exciting,” says Woodard.

The community can help support the library by coming out to a book fair at Barnes & Noble, at 3111 South Veteran’s Parkway, on Sunday, June 12, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The fair will have face painting, arts and crafts, and animal balloons. A percentage of the proceeds will go toward the Northside Community Children’s Library as well as a percentage of sales online between June 12 to 17. Customers must present the ID number 10480507 at the checkout or when purchasing online at www.BN.com/bookfairs.

Contact Holly Dillemuth at hdillemuth@illinoistimes.com.
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