Each year Library Directors across the state nominate and select outstanding library achievements in the following three categories: Library- Awards given to libraries for programming, service innovation, public relations and staff development projects; Facility- Awarded to new or renovated library facilities that demonstrate innovative, creative and functional building design; and Personal- Awards for library directors, trustees, friends and other individuals who provide outstanding leadership or support to libraries. The Neuse Regional Libraries are excited to announce that it was awarded two of twenty 2020 North Carolina Public Library Directors Association (NCPLDA) Awards. The first was the Medium Programming of the Year Award for STEM 4 All which is a collaborative partnership with the Kinston Housing Authority. The second was an Outstanding New/Improved Library Facility Award for the Pollocksville Public Library Refresh project. We are thrilled to be recognized by our peers for making a positive impact in our communities.
Programming Award – STEM 4 ALL
The Neuse Regional Libraries are centered in community. The Library invests heavily in the skills and personal development of residents; offers a welcoming and inclusive place for the community; and builds partnerships and programs that have significant community impact. Moreover, the Library excels at innovative programs and services, including outreach to the underserved. An example of this commitment to community is an onsite program called STEM 4 All. Through strong collaboration with the Kinston Housing Authority (KHA), the Library provides increased access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming and Homework Help to elementary and middle school aged children at the Jack Rountree Apartment complex two times a week. STEM 4 ALL takes the library’s learning resources and programming directly to students in our community who may not have access to the library due to multiple factors, including transportation issues, to ensure that they have maximum access to digital tools that help eliminate “homework gap” barriers. Additionally, the success of the STEM 4 All program is the direct result of having the right library staff members lead the programming sessions, and an incredible Apartment Manager, Dawn Whitfield who enthusiastically supports and assist with the program.
Another aspect of the success of the STEM 4 ALL program is the inclusion of guest speakers who are representative of the community, and expose students to future career opportunities in a safe environment. Guest speakers have included the City of Kinston Mayor, who helped participants understand how he uses STEM in his job every day, and an Instructor from the Lenoir Community College Aviation Department, who taught participants how wind lifts such large vehicles off the ground through an engineering hands-on activity to just name a few. However, the most eye-opening lesson learned from this collaborative program is how much students valued the Homework Help portion of the STEM 4 ALL program. While the STEM portion was fun and educational, it was remarkable to see that students ultimately understood the importance of their homework and its correlation with school performance.
Outstanding New/Improved Library Facility Award – Pollocksville Public Library Refresh
Neuse Regional Libraries, which serve Lenoir, Jones, and Greene Counties, are committed to providing the residents they serve with welcoming community spaces where they feel encouraged to enjoy library services and interact with other library users. As part of its Strategic Plan, the Library identified one of its priorities as “…[creating] smart spaces in or around the Library where community members engage in active learning and strengthen social connections.” Towards this goal, Library staff recently did some much-needed refreshing at the Pollocksville Public Library (PPL) with the assistance of Jones County Government.
The Library was able to create a vibrant, versatile space at the PPL, filled with cool colors and bursts of apple green and cerulean blue, mobile furniture, and modern technology where community members can gather in a warm environment and feel welcomed. Additionally, the Children’s area was revamped with interactive manipulatives and decorated with STEM-friendly decorations to match the Library’s increased focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming. The PPL Branch Manager and staff are very happy with the end result and look forward to providing enhanced programming to our communities to continue to grow the Jones County Public Libraries. Still, the most significant impact of this project is the renewed enthusiasm and love for the library by the Pollocksville community. Big thanks to Jones County Government, Paul Ingram, Joseph St. Clair, and Sandy Murphy for lending a helping hand to make the PPL a welcoming place.
2020 has been a unique and challenging year for the Neuse Regional Libraries, and we are grateful to be recognized by the NCPLDA for our part in creating a bright and sustainable future for Lenoir, Jones, and Greene Counties in the field of librarianship. However, we know we could not do it without the support of our communities and strong leadership of our local government entities and library board members. Thanks to each of you for your support and advocacy of the Neuse Regional Libraries. #WhereCommunitiesComeTogether