Keeping the library connected to the community during a life-changing pandemic proved to be an award-winning endeavor for the Northeast Regional Library.
The regional system, which includes Booneville, Corinth and other area branches, has been honored with the 2021 Jane Smith Literacy Award which, in turn, led to the Library of Congress State Literacy Award for the Northeast Regional’s Suggested Family Activities program. The regional system also received Star Status recognition from the Mississippi Library Commission for a second consecutive year.
The family activities program came from the need to get creative during the pandemic, when the library was looking at how to do a Summer Library Program with the doors closed to the public.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we perform all aspects of library services, but we remain committed to serving our communities in new and creative ways,” said Dee Hare, director of the Northeast Regional Library. “Our physical buildings may still be closed, but library staff are working each and every day to help our patrons as best we can during these difficult times.”
Hare, a Booneville native and former librarian for Booneville’s George E Allen Library before being promoted to director, decided to incorporate all of her Summer Library Program activity ideas into small, daily suggested family activities to be posted on the regional library’s website and distributed through curbside pickup. These gave kids a wealth of things to do, such as arts and crafts, games, outdoor activities, early literacy suggestions, writing and journaling ideas, and things to do together, like making a family scrapbook or time capsule.
“The titles of suggested reading materials are often worked in to promote the library’s collections,” said Hare, “but this project’s goal is to help our communities find ways to engage together, regardless of whether they use the libraries’ physical materials.”
The program became a regular feature, continuing beyond the summer program.
The Jane Smith Literacy Award, bestowed by the Mississippi Library Commission and the Mississippi Center for the Book, recognizes an existing literacy program that is outside of traditional library service and is innovative in nature. Its namesake was a library advocate for more than 30 years.
That honor led to the nomination for the Library of Congress State Literacy Award, which recognizes outstanding and innovative contributions to promoting literacy and reading.
The Star Library Status given by the Mississippi Library Commission is based on statistics including circulation, total program attendance per capita and public internet terminal use per capita.
The Northeast Regional is one of three recognized in the category with expenditures of $600,000 to $999,999.