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Baltimore County Public Library

Baltimore County Public Library

Innovation Leader: Marisa Conner, Youth Services Coordinator, Baltimore County Public Library, mconner@bcpl.net

Problem Statement

In 2004-05, only 65% of children entering kindergarten in Baltimore County were rated as “fully ready” on a composite score of the Work Sampling System (WSS) which tests school readiness skills in young children with only 55% rated as “fully ready” in the areas of Language and Literacy. A child’s level of language and literacy skills is the single greatest indicator of later learning success. Parents and early child care providers need resources that help them understand school readiness skills and provide models of activities and experiences for developing those skills.

Innovation

Storyville -- an interactive, early learning literacy center for children ages birth through five and their caregivers -- was developed. The first Storyville (Storyville @ Rosedale) opened in 2008 on the east side of Baltimore County; the second (Storyville @ Woodlawn) opened in 2010 on the west side of Baltimore County. Each Storyville is a museum-quality, child-sized village that includes developmentally appropriate books, materials and activities for children to use interactively with adults. Each of the seven thematic areas is designed to be "self-service" for parents, caregivers and their children to interact, play, read and learn together. In addition to information and literacy materials, Storyville provides hands-on experiential learning opportunities for parents and caregivers as they play, read and learn with their children in a fun, interactive and literacy-rich environment. The activities in the early childhood center are designed to support the skills identified in the Maryland Model for School Readiness.

Progress

Since opening in February 2008, Storyville @ Rosedale has recorded over 235,000 visits. Since opening in March 2010, Storyville @ Woodlawn has recorded nearly 60,000 visits. Storyville has been recognized as an innovator by the Baltimore Business Journal and continues to attract new visitors every month as well as repeat visitors, all of whom experience joyful play as learning with the fostering of early literacy and school readiness skills.