Imagine a welcoming and engaging school library with colorful walls, fun furniture, interactive technology and books for all reading levels. Now imagine that same space filled with kids, parents and community members all working together in a dynamic, inspiring and innovative environment made just for them! Using inspiration from other models in New York and Washington D.C., the Weinberg Foundation, in collaboration with some tremendous partners, is about to launch the Baltimore Elementary & Middle School Library Project! This initiative will bring together Baltimore City Public Schools, the Weinberg Foundation and a number of other partners to fully equip elementary school libraries and transform them into modern, fun and well-resourced spaces for the entire community.
In the first year of this new multi-year, multi-million dollar project, we plan on renovating four libraries, but our dreams do not stop there. In addition to taking the lead on the design of the space (thanks to Kirk Design, our interior design partner), we intend to make a two-year operating grant to supplement the full-time librarian already working in each library. Weinberg will fund a new, part-time, para-professional staff member to help increase library use by students, teachers, and parents as well as to support all of the library-related programming. We recognize that a library is only as good as their staff, so we will also provide funding to give library staff the chance to participate in regional and national professional development opportunities.
As you can imagine we are very excited to “open the book” on this initiative and begin transforming the lives of students and their families. We are honored to be joined in this adventure by a diverse group of partners who represent all levels of government, corporations and other non-profits who are donating their time, talent or treasure to expand the impact of this project.
The first four schools are Moravia Park Elementary, Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle, Southwest Baltimore Charter School and East Baltimore Community School. Some of our community partners include the Enoch Pratt Free Library, The Baltimore Sun, Comcast, Barnes and Noble, Wells Fargo, the Fund for Educational Excellence, to name a few. For a full project description and sponsorship list, click here.
We know that we haven’t thought of everything and are learning every day more that could be done in our public school libraries to improve school culture, academic achievement and family and community engagement. In an effort to dream big and create a space that is extraordinarily kid-friendly, welcoming and comfortable we want to hear from you. What do you think we should incorporate? Who do you think we should involve? Let us know by posting your comments below. We look forward to learning from you too!