Cambridge Public Library Party


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!

To learn more about the Cambridge Public Library, visit its official website, like its Facebook page, or follow it on Twitter @cambridgepl.

The Writer’s Bone Interviews Archive

Literary Machine: Detroit Community Center Spreads Literacy With Free Kids’ Books

Photo courtesy of Fox 2

Photo courtesy of Fox 2

By Daniel Ford

Earlier this month, I ran across a feel-good news story about Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center distributing free summer reading to local kids through a nifty book vending machine.

The vending machine is courtesy of JetBlue’s “Soar With Reading” program, which aims to “encourage kids’ imaginations to take flight through reading and get books into the hands of kids that need them most.” According to the airline’s website, $1,750,000 worth of books have been donated to kids in need by JetBlue and its partners.

The Center, which opened its doors in 1975, serves more than 250,000 Detroit residents annually, and offers “programs and activities for youth, families, and seniors that enhance the quality of life in the Detroit community.”

Norris J. Howard III, the Center’s social media manager, graciously talked to me about the community’s reaction to the initiative and how it has helped give local youths access to books and literature.

Daniel Ford: How did the Northwest Activities Center become involved with JetBlue’s summer reading program, “Soar With Reading?” What are some of the objectives of the program?

Norris J. Howard III: JetBlue actually reached out to us based on our proximity to schools and our central location. Our objective with this partnership is to increase literacy in our area. Many Detroit youth have limited access to bookstores and libraries, and this was a way for us to make books (especially Early Childhood material) available to our community.

DF: What has the reaction been like from kids and their parents to this year’s book vending machine?

NJH: Overwhelmingly positive! The community has responded in an amazing way to the program. We have to restock the machine two to three times a day during peak hours and sometimes overnight due to our evening events.

DF: According to your executive director, Ronald Lockett, you’ve distributed more than 7,000 books in six weeks through your book vending machine. That’s a lot of books! Did you ever imagine restocking the machine so much?!

NJH: No, we had no idea the program would be so successful. We are absolutely thrilled that the community enjoyed the books so much.

To learn more about the Northwest Activities Center, visit their official website or like their Facebook page.

The Writer’s Bone Interviews Archive