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Springfield (MA) City Library
Christin LaRocque, Youth & Outreach Services Supervisor, CLaRocque@SpringfieldLibrary.org
The Child Guidance Clinic’s Early Intervention Program needed a space and access to “typically developing” children to continue to run their weekly playgroup; the library was seeking ways to provide literacy opportunities to children and families who do not attend traditional storytimes.
The Springfield City Library and Early Intervention joined forces to offer the playgroup. Early Intervention provides staff, activities and a snack for all of the children. The library provides space and access to not only books, puppets and CDs, but also to all the materials in the Early Childhood Resource Center (i.e., a crawl tunnel and cooking set). The library advertised the program and recruited families who are not receiving Early Intervention services to make up the other half of the group. Each week a librarian reads stories and provides music and movement experiences to the children, modeling for the adults at the same time.
We have received very positive responses from the participants, and attendance has been very consistent. (Consistent attendance is not something we take for granted in Springfield!) Older siblings of the children in the playgroup enjoy spending time in the Children’s Room, doing puzzles, drawing and reading books with their caregivers. They also participate in the storytime taking place in another room. The caregivers spend time looking for books to read to their kids at home and take the time to look through our parenting materials. They even look for books for themselves! Gone is the fear about getting the materials back in time because they know that they will be back the next week. Some of the caregivers have also begun talking to each other while they wait, forming a loose support group for each other. We are very pleased that this collaboration has enabled us to introduce new people to the library, providing access to library materials for families who otherwise might not have considered coming to the library.