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Stark Library Gets Grants for Children's Programs

Stark Library has been selected for two grants that will help it provide children with learning experiences in STEM fields and nature.

Stark Library was the only Ohio library to be selected for the NASA@My Library grant. Its goal is to increase interest in STEM fields in historically underserved groups.

The $1,600 grant will help students learn about NASA people, content and facilities, and prepare them to code, calculate, design, discover and innovate.

"STEM exposure is so important, and for some kids, these programs could inspire the next Jessica Watkins or John Glenn," library Executive Director and CEO Mary Ellen Icaza said in a statement. "The library’s mission is to spark curiosity and foster knowledge by connecting everyone to resources, services, and opportunities."

Stark Library will focus on three major events in 2022:

  • Launch of the James Webb Space Telescope

  • First images from the James Webb Space Telescope

  • Its Summer Learning program. NASA@My Library resources will share the story of NASA’s explorations of Earth, our solar system and the universe.

The library will focus on areas near its DeHoff, Madge Youtz, and Sandy Valley branches, but all the library's locations will be able to use the materials.

The grant was awarded from the American Library Association Public Programs Office and the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute, in partnership with the Lunar and Planetary Institute and Education Development Center.

Library and Stark Parks partner

Meanwhile, an American Rescue Plan Act grant will help create a permanent Trail Tales story walk at the Perry Sippo Branch and Stark Parks' Exploration Gateway.

The grant is $38,000, including in-kind contributions from Stark Parks. New stories will be installed regularly.

"Learning in nature creates an immersive learning experience by engaging all of your senses. You’re not just building literacy skills, you're creating memories that will last a lifetime," said Icaza. "It’s a great way to encourage an active lifestyle while creating a lifelong appreciation of nature."

The library will partner with Stark Parks on the program.

"I'm excited to continue our longstanding partnership with Stark Library, including sharing the first library and park facility, the Exploration Gateway at Sippo Lake Park," Bob Fonte, Stark Parks director, said in a statement. "We are looking forward to continuing our joint educational vision together by building this trail with the library and sharing an outdoor reading experience for all of Stark County."

The library and parks system will work with the Cincinnati’s Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired to provide Braille translation for the permanent installation. In addition, a guide rope will connect the structures. The project was supported by federal Institute of Museum and Library Services funds, granted through the State Library of Ohio.

Both projects will begin next year.

Stark Library serves an estimated 130,000 children 10 years and younger each year.