Public libraries are the heart of many neighborhoods and communities. As a center for reading, technology, gathering and teaching, a library can serve multiple purposes within a community. In Thomas Park/Avondale, the location of the Maring Hunt Library is a great opportunity to connect the programs at the library with South View Elementary School and the Wilson School Apartments. To capitalize on this opportunity, the goal is to construct an outdoor facility that can double as a community gathering place and an outdoor classroom for children at South View and Maring Hunt.
The Maring Hunt Library initiative relates to the MAP Initiative 1: Linking Learning, Health and Prosperity, and Initiative 5: Managing Community Resources. Initiative 1, Action 1: Create an awareness-building coalition to promote the importance of education and Action 3: Augment school curriculums to address both basic and career-oriented skills specifically relate to the outdoor classroom proposal by encouraging Thomas Park/ Avondale’s youth to learn about different sciences in a hands-on nature and to spark interest in different career options while learning in an interactive environment.
The Maring Hunt Library initiative was created to address the request for more constructive children’s programs and safe community gathering space at the Thomas Park/ Avondale neighborhood association meeting on February 3, 2016.
When the Muncie Pubic Library System consolidated, the Maring Hunt Library became the head library in Muncie. With the amount of resources already available at the Maring Hunt Library, an extension of the services to a covered outdoor classroom setting would be an applicable addition to the library’s space. The space could benefit Thomas Park/ Avondale by creating more diverse educational opportunities for the neighborhood’s children, by encouraging educated and committed Muncie residents to patronize the neighborhood and its other facilities and by forming a new, safe outdoor recreation and gathering space for members of the neighborhood. Furthermore, the space could provide children in Thomas Park/ Avondale with more access to summer programming to help them learn about healthy foods and science as well as provide the opportunity to interact with senior citizens in the Wilson School Apartments during events such as interactive story time.
Figure 2 – Image showing children playing in an outdoor classroom at a library. Source: Julia Chanen
Partners in this project could include the Maring Hunt Library, the Thomas Park/ Avondale neighborhood association and Muncie Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity’s dedication to supporting the Muncie community and providing support and beautification services would make them an effective partner for this project.
At a Thomas Park/ Avondale neighborhood association meeting, a library committee could be formed. The Committee would be in charge of organizing a meeting between all potential stakeholders to determine who will be involved and establish a time line for the construction of the outdoor space.
The Library Committee could be in charge of the project because a construction project requires professional opinions, but has an influence on the community. The Committee could include neighborhood residents, parents, Habitat for Humanity and a representative(s) from the Maring Hunt Library at minimum. The Committee must establish a task schedule based on the application timelines for the funding sources for which the community will apply. If the schedule is not followed, the project will not be built. Therefore, the neighborhood association members could hold the Committee accountable.
The outdoor space would be located at the Maring Hunt Library. Through observation and collaboration with the library staff, the Library Committee would determine the best location for the space on the property.
Bay Head Elementary School: Bay Head, New Jersey
Bay Head Elementary School located in Bay Head, New Jersey, created two school gardens and an outdoor classroom facility in an effort to educate the students about plant and animal life as well as integrate outdoor education into lessons throughout their classes. The project was started by teacher and librarian Joyce Cowen and was carried out by a team of seven including a school maintenance engineer, a past president of the local gardening club, teachers and a Board of Education member. Funding for the project came from a grant from the Ocean County Soil Conservation District and was supplemented by donations of building supplies and gardening tools from the local hardware store.
Figure 2: Children at Bay Head Elementary School planting in their outdoor classroom. Source: Source: http://www.soildistrict.org/wp-content/uploads
National Leadership Grants for Libraries: Due July 1, 2016, this grant aims to fund a Learning in Libraries initiative. This national grant may span up to three years for a project and libraries may receive from $10,000 to $2 million dollars.
Marsh Supermarkets: Marsh Supermarkets have a long tradition of giving back to the communities in which they serve. The company funds a wide range of requests, including events. A 501(c)(3) tax id number is required to apply for funding. Requests may be submitted both online and through mail. Requests for donations under $1,000 must be submitted at least six weeks in advance of the event or date needed. Requests for major sponsorships ($1,000 or more) must be submitted six months in advance.
National Leadership Grants for Libraries
Institute of Museum and Library Services
1800 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Contact: Tim Carrigan Senior Library Program Officer
Additional websites of interest