The Orange County Public Library received a $50,000 grant to expand access to libraries and books for children in northern and western rural Orange County.
"We have been wanting to grow outreach as a library so that we're reaching more kids,” said Stephanie Knop, a children’s outreach specialist at the Orange County Public Library.
The project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina.
Knop spearheaded the program by applying for the grant in the fall of last year. She plans to work closely with Central Elementary, Pathways Elementary and Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary.
"Those schools are all kind of in the Hillsborough area or northern Orange (county) where there are not as much services," Knop said. "(There is) not as much access to public transportation out there, the kids in those areas have a higher concentration of poverty, and there is underrepresented groups out there that do not have access and they’re not already coming to the library. They’re not able to get to some of the things that are in Chapel Hill so we wanted to take some services out to them."
Knop will work with each school to identify the individual needs of the students and parents in an attempt to provide flexible and specialized help.
The program is not exclusive to the schools in northern Orange County. Knop is also coordinating programs with local community centers to expand the access of books to children who may not be able to get to the library.
“We are also working with Efland-Cheeks Community Center and Cedar Grove Community Center to bring books out to the community through a program called the boxmobile which allows kids to check out books at the community center,” Knop said.
Places like Cedar Grove Community Center have already begun enrichment programs for reading and wellness that the grant will supplement.