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Providence Community Library Takes Learning on the Road to PPSD Schools and City Recreation Centers with “Summer Reading in the Schoolyard”

Published Date: 
June 16, 2016

Project Will Encourage Students to Read on a Daily Basis, Even Outdoors at Summer Camp

Providence Community Library (PCL) has been awarded $89,320 by United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI), part of a renewable, three-year grant to support “Summer Reading in the Schoolyard.” The project will re-equip PCL’s existing mobile library to deliver summer reading opportunities to students who do not have access to regular library services. The mobile library will operate a regular schedule of visits to selected PPSD elementary schools and City recreation centers. Additionally, participating children will be issued with public library cards as part of the city’s commitment to a national initiative, the “ConnectED Library Challenge.”

PCL’s mobile library will visit ten of PPSD’s 22 elementary schools once a week for eight weeks in 2016 and provide library services at summer and sports day camps operated by the City’s Recreation Department. The ten pilot schools are as follows:

MONDAY: Asa Messer Elementary (A.M) and William d’Abate Elementary (P.M)
TUESDAY: Leviton Dual Language (A.M) and Robert F. Kennedy Elementary (P.M)
WEDNESDAY: Young & Woods Elementary (A.M) and Reservoir Avenue Elementary (P.M)
THURSDAY: Frank D. Spaziano Elementary (A.M) and George J. West Elementary School (P.M.)
FRIDAY: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (A.M.) and Harry Kizirian Elementary (P.M.)

The mobile library will carry 4,000 popular books for youth readers and will be outfitted with a sound system, shade tents, tables and chairs, “life-size” board games, mobile hot spots for WiFi access and a number of computers. Participating children will be able to access free e-books on electronic devices and software will track how students invest their daily reading time. The mobile library will be managed by a dedicated children’s specialist assisted by other PCL staff and college age youth interns. Providence elementary school classroom teachers and math coaches will provide hands-on math activities at each school site.

 “The mobile library provides an exciting opportunity for the library, the schools and the recreation department to work together to reach more students” said Cheryl Space, PCL’s Youth Services Coordinator. “The project directly supports the Mayor’s summer learning initiative and, by issuing library cards to all students and arranging library visits for their classes, we are encouraging children to stay involved with their local library.” 

PCL has already started to issue library cards to elementary school students who will participate in “Summer Reading in the Schoolyard” and the procedure used will act as a pilot for the larger task of supplying cards, over time, to all Providence students. Interim PCL Library Director Eileen Dyer, PPSD Commissioner Christopher Maher and Mayor Jorge Elorza recently joined the ConnectED Library Challenge, a national initiative launched in 2015 by the White House, to provide every student in a public school with a library card. 

Youth up to age 18 who visit the mobile library, either independently or with their families, will qualify for a free breakfast at the morning school sites (9:00 – 10:00) and a free lunch at the afternoon school sites (1:30 – 2:30) from July 5 to  August 19 as part of the City of Providence’s Summer Meals Program. The Program is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which provides kids and teens in low-income areas with free meals during the long summer recess.

60 percent of Providence students experience summer reading loss and 51 percent experience summer math loss. PPSD’s Office of Research, Planning and Accountability will analyze literacy testing results from spring and fall 2016 to determine if students who read 20 minutes a day, five days a week, throughout the summer, maintain or gain reading skills over the summer months.