SALEM- The Salem Public Library is offering its youngest patrons a head start in literacy with assistance from the Salem Community Foundation.
Using federal and local funding, the library recently purchased two computers- new Early Literacy Stations for patrons ages 2 to 8 in the children's department. The computers feature educational games and learning tools that help children learn the essential early literacy skills to help them succeed in life, according to Library Director Brad Stephens.
"There are a number of early literacy skills children need to acquire during the pre-school and early elementary years," he explained. "[The Early Literacy Stations] help develop recognition of letters, understanding of sounds...a lot of what is involved with the beginning skills of reading.
"And it's done in a way that is fun and engaging. Anytime we can do something to get kids excited about learning, it's a win for everyone involved."
To purchase the technology, the library used $3,723 in funding through the Library and Services Technology Act from the State Library of Ohio. The Salem Community Foundation provided the remaining $1,341, the local portion of the grant, through its Louis H. and Maude S. Brush Memorial Fund.
"We have developed a partnership with the library, and the Brush Fund seemed like the perfect fit for this project," said Melissa Costa, the foundation's grant coordinator. "I think with the evolution from print to computers- the Brushes (newspaper moguls and former owners of the Salem News) would have been tickled."
The Salem Community Foundation has made multiple contributions to the library in the past for purchase of books and equipment and has consistently been at the forefront of technology at the facility, having provided the primary funds for the first computers purchased by the library.
"Part of what we like to do is partner with groups like the library," said John Tonti, foundation president. "They've got their own dollars, but we've got dollars to match them to make projects like these possible."
The computers have been installed for about three weeks and have seen about 18 children per day in 20 minute intervals. Stephens said he expects that number to increase significantly soon. Parents are required to remain in the department with the children while at the stations.
The computers have touch screens, color coordinated keyboards and age appropriate mice. Program updates are available twice a year.
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org