Summer Outreach in the North Central Cluster

By Catherine M. RSS Wed, September 16, 2020

When we reflect on the highly unusual Summer of Wonder 2020, one highlight stands out for the staff at the North Central Cluster of Libraries – making and sharing Grab ‘n Go Activity Kits. Thanks to materials from Youth Services and Programming and a little creativity, we found a safe and fun way to reconnect with our patrons and strengthen existing community partnerships.  

Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library didn’t skip a beat with their annual summer partners at Horizons at Greene Street Friends School in Germantown. Every Thursday in July, the Library's Children’s Department partnered with Horizons to assist with produce box distribution and hand out activity kits. Library staff put together art supply kits, as well as a variety of STEM kits to create things like tangram and jigsaw puzzles, marble mazes, and even a sun shelter for an animal made with UV-sensitive, color-changing beads!

"Each week we would hear how much children enjoyed the materials they received the week before," reported Librarian Alyson B. "Caregivers really appreciated the new activities to keep their children occupied. And as for us, we enjoyed connecting with the community that we miss so much, seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends."

Coleman Regional Librarian Kelly D.’s Adult Summer of Wonder Grab ‘n Go Activity Kits at the Germantown Supply Hub

Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library's Adult Department distributed Adult Summer of Wonder Kits at the nearby Germantown Supply Hub. Librarian Kelly D. packed the kits with a notebook, pen, giveaway book, and a bingo card filled with activities (such as cooking a new cuisine) which patrons could complete to win prizes. It was a welcome surprise for community members who visited the ongoing mutual aid program in The People’s Lot behind Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books.

Logan Librarian Lynne H. hands out Read, Baby, Read snack cups at Lindley Academy Charter at Birney

Oak Lane Library and Logan Library set up outreach tables at food distribution sites in their neighborhoods, at Wagner Middle School and Lindley Academy Charter at Birney, respectively. The Activity Kits included information about the libraries and virtual summer reading, a Reading Champs Guide for elementary students, and a super-cool Summer of Wonder collapsible water bottle. Some of our most popular giveways, besides books, were small LEGO sets, a letter-writing kit with stamped postcards from the Philly Goat Project, and snack boxes and snacks from Read, Baby, Read.

Logan Librarians Lynne H. and Catherine M. hand out summer books at Lindley Academy Charter at Birney

We couldn’t have done it without partners like A Better Start, a health education program at Einstein Healthcare Network, who made hundreds of activity kits for us to share. Nicetown-Tioga Library staff delivered these kits to both the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club and the Wayne Avenue Boys & Girls Club. In August, longtime Library partner Nutritional Development Services seamlessly provided Logan Library and Joseph E. Coleman Regional Library with Grab ‘n Go Meals for distribution right outside our buildings. This was a great chance to see some of our regulars and make new connections. We especially loved the visits from our neighborhood daycares and our former LEAP teens.

Summer may almost be over, but North Central Philadelphia library staff is out and about. We hope to see you at some of these upcoming, socially-distanced events:

We may even have some Grab ‘n Go Activity Kits to spare. Please ask for one when you stop by one of our limited in-person service locations.

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Free Library staff are meetings the challenge of Covid and redefining outreach and services in innovative ways that prioritize safety. Well done!
Jamie B - West Philadelphia
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The North Central Cluster Librarians and staff have made a big impact on their communities this summer. By distributing grab and go kits at neighborhood and school sites, you found a new ways to reach and connect with people. Thanks for your outward facing work with our communities.
Toni Hoagland - Andorra & Germantown
Thursday, September 17, 2020