Though many see librarians only as purveyors of books, librarians can offer tailored experiences to better serve their population.
Kutztown Community Library offers services such as admission passes to educational sites, Wi-Fi hotspots and computer/internet access, passport services, and events for all ages. For those patrons who may not be able to make it in to the library, outreach programs bring the events to them and makes it possible for more residents to benefit from library services.
Megan Waidelich, a sociology intern at Kutztown Community Library from Albright College, worked to create an environment that fostered learning and encouraged growth of Kutztown area residents, young and old, via these programs.
For children specifically, the nurturing of literacy and education is a primary focus.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14 percent of Berks County adults cannot read at a basic level. By capturing young minds with outreach, such as storytelling and exposure to books outside of the home or classroom, Kutztown Community Library carves important pathways for local children to achieve their goals and be successful in the future.
Waidelich produced “Slumbertales,” which are videos of staff, volunteers, and library lovers reading a story on Facebook. Children who watch these videos are given the opportunity to have a bedtime story where they may not have one otherwise. Visit “Kutztown Community Library” on YouTube to see the latest “Slumbertales.”
Also Waidelich arranged two story times in the park, making progress in stimulating the youth demographic. She took the lead in running a Berks Vision Resource Center story time that additionally provided preventative early childhood eye exams at no cost.
However, the library is not a resource only for children, but for teens, adults, and seniors, too. Waidelich expressly worked on programs that would cater to more populations so as to reach greater numbers of residents and establish relationships with all kinds of community members.
She has also facilitated reading to middle schoolers in the Life Skills class.
“Often, programs are not accessible to these students,” said Waidelich. “I wanted to make the extra effort to cater story times to their particular needs.”
She cites it as one of her favorite programs, as it enabled her to engage with students repeatedly and get to know them.
During an intense heat wave, she also provided local construction workers with water bottles, communicating KCL’s appreciation for hardworking individuals in the community and showing that the library will always welcome them.
Waidelich created Food 4 Fines as a way of relieving fines owed to the library. This allowed people to donate food in exchange for debt forgiveness. To further support Kutztown citizens, KCL partnered with local volunteer organization Friend, Inc. Community Services in this endeavor.
Seniors could appreciate Waidelich’s events, too, as she held a Nursing Home story time at Kutztown Manor to read books, do various crafts, and have conversations to bring the group together. She read stories from their childhoods, engaging them with fond memories and providing a story time to those who may no longer be able to consistently experience new events.
Waidelich strives to provide and show the importance of outreach in our community, and Kutztown is better for it.