By Daniel Ford
The Cambridge Public Library announced earlier this week that it is hosting literacy-themed library parties at locations across Cambridge, Mass, this summer and fall.
These parties—hosted in partnership with the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA), the Department of Human Services, and the Cambridge Public Health Department—aim to increase awareness of the library system in Cambridge, get more children signed up for library cards, and generate excitement for the library.
On July 19, the library (partnering with Agenda for Children) will participate in the Cambridge Story Walk. It will also host a party at the Corcoran Park Housing Authority on Sept. 30 that will focus on signing children up to get a library card and explain services that are offered at the library (snacks will be served, of course!).
Maria McCauley, director of libraries for the Cambridge Public Library, graciously answered a few of my questions recently about the initiative.
Daniel Ford: Where did the idea for these literary-themed library parties you have planned for this summer and fall originate?
Maria McCauley: This program is part of a national framework to encourage grade level reading through the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) who encourages member libraries to create their own local initiatives around this theme. We reached out to the CHA and they were excited to work with us.
DF: How important is it for children living in HUD-assisted housing to do so in a “book-rich environment?”
MM: Research has shown that all children thrive by living in a "book-rich environment" and the Cambridge Public Library is committed to serving all youth in Cambridge. We're especially eager to focus on initiatives that will help to close the achievement gap.
DF: How excited are library employees, as well as the local agencies you’re partnering with, to help spread literacy in a fun way?
MM: Our library employees and local partners are extremely committed to supporting literacy in fun and creative ways. If you asked our employees, I think they would say that it is programs like this one that inspires us to do what we do.
DF: Are there plans for future programs like this in the future?
MM: We're always looking for new ways to partner with various agencies and for opportunities to promote literacy. Because this is a pilot program, we will assess the program for future expansion. We're excited by the possibilities!