Marie Fleche Memorial Library receives grant

Through the grant provided by the Literacy Access Fund, two new workstations for young children and a tablet were purchased to increase educational availability for youth in the community

The Marie Fleche Memorial Library was awarded a $10,000 grant award last week by the Literacy Access Fund, a relatively new organization aimed at making literacy possible for kids across the country.

The grant allowed the library to purchase and establish two new workstations for children who come to the library. The workstations are designed for children ages two to eight, making the stations complete with color-coded keyboards, educational games and activities to facilitate learning, headphones for the stations, as well as a tablet for children to use.

Betty Velie, in charge of technology and publicity for the library, co-wrote the grant alongside Library Director Christine Flynn just two days before being notified the library was chosen to receive the funds.

“I’ve never seen anything move this fast in my life,” said Velie. “These workstations will help aid [children] in understanding the digital world and get them used to computers by improving their hand-eye coordination, using a keyboard and mouse and get them to relate to a screen.”

Flynn said the importance of such resources in libraries cannot be overstated, and these workstations can help jump-start children’s education and learning processes earlier in their life and more easily.

“We’re letting these kids, who maybe don’t have access to this type of technology at home, to come to the library and they can learn,” said Flynn. “They’re not going to be an outlier.”

As Velie said earlier, an important aspect of this grant was also the ability to help get children familiar with technology and computers at an early age, no matter their families’ economic background, in a world where technology continues to become both more important and more complex.

“It’s also about getting familiar with a mouse, a touch screen, what does the computer look like,” said Flynn. “I’m not sure what grades, but [some schools] are giving tablets to kids, so you want these kids to be able to feel comfortable with that.”

The computers, workstations and everything purchased through the grant are property of the library and come with a four-year contract that allows for updated software to be installed for free and for any problems or malfunctions the workstations or tablets might encounter to be fixed.

Literacy Access Fund Director of Fundraising Duke Doblick presented the grant to the board of trustees last week at the library. In a press release from the Literacy Access Fund, the organization states its mission is to “provide financial support to underfunded public libraries,” with a goal centered around helping “provide equal access to quality resources for young learners, regardless of economic factors.”

Having started in 2016, the Literacy Access Fund had recently been looking to expand into Camden County with its grant awards and labeled the Marie Fleche Memorial Library as a potential recipient. After making contact with Flynn, the hope of awarding financial assistance to the library became a reality.

“In today’s era, children are growing up with technology … whether at home or in school,” said Doblick. “We thought why should a child in an underserved community have less access to quality resources, through the library, than a child in an affluent neighborhood? We want to make an impact on helping balance that out and getting equal access.”