Reading is brain food

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The recent success of the First Chapters crowdfund affirms my conviction that our community values education and reading for young children — and, no matter what our politics, we will always come together to provide a better future for our kids. This week, more than 200 supporters raised $40,000 to update the children’s libraries in Grants Pass and Illinois Valley with new books, carpet, and furniture. Now the library team will continue to raise funds through grants, purchase new books, and plan to lay new carpet over the holidays when the libraries are closed for a few days. We’ve already purchased a new bean bag to replace the duct-taped variety currently available at the Grants Pass branch (see photo).

Reading is brain food, and we want all children in our community to have a plentiful plate of this vital nutrient. Every dollar raised will go to support children’s reading, which is priceless for the long-term health of our community. An endless stream of past and current research supports the importance of literacy and reading aloud at the youngest ages possible, even prenatal. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement advocating that pediatricians educate parents about the importance of reading aloud to children. In a study reported by the same group, researchers also found the child’s brain develops greater neural activation when engaged in reading activities.

Funds raised through the First Chapters crowdfund are an investment in the future of our community, and I would like to personally thank all contributors, including the City of Cave Junction, AllCare CCO, Welch Investment Group LLC, and Oregon’s Kitchen Table for their sponsorship and consultation.

The Summer Reading Program is a great example of the excellent programs our public library offers children and families. With themed storytimes and age-appropriate reading activities, children are encouraged to meet weekly reading goals for prizes and incentives. This year, 754 children participated in the program across all four branches in Grants Pass, Williams, Wolf Creek, and Illinois Valley. From Reading in the Garden to Baby Rhyme Time, quality children’s program delivery is one of the highest priorities for Josephine Community Libraries. If you have ideas for great programs, or would like to volunteer, please let us know by sending an email to info@josephinelibrary.org. There’s a place for everyone at the public library.

As students of all ages gear up for the fall academic schedule, we recognize that fines and fees may prohibit their use of the library. For the first two weeks of September, we are offering Back to School Fine Amnesty, allowing individuals to donate cans of food for the Josephine County Food Bank as a credit toward existing library fines. From September 1 through September 12, the library will forgive previously incurred fines and waive fines on all returned overdue items in return for donations of nonperishable, non-expired food items. One donated item forgives $5 in fines. Returned overdue items must be in good condition. Note that fees for lost cards, lost books, and charges for damaged items are not included in the Fine Amnesty program. Let’s start the school year off debt-free.

Regardless of your economic status, politics, or education, your public library is here to serve you. I remain eternally grateful to everyone who donates and volunteers to keep the library system in Josephine County open and thriving in spite of its lack of public funding. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, who reopened the libraries six years ago after they were closed by the county due to lack of funds. And, even further back, we reap the rewards of our forefathers who had the foresight to develop a public library system with free access to information — without libraries, we would be starved for the essential ingredients of a healthy community and a well-nurtured brain.

KateLaskyHeadshotKate Lasky has been the executive director of Josephine Community Libraries, Inc. since 2010. She holds a master’s in education and serves on the Oregon Library Association Legislative and Development Committee. In April this year, she was honored by the Oregon Library Association with the Ole award which annually recognizes an Oregon public library employee who has displayed exceptional effort and excellence.