WINFIELD — The Winfield Public Library hosted a book checkout fair event on Saturday morning, May 20, to promote many new children’s books the library received thanks to a grant from the Pilcrow Foundation, as well as support from local donors.
The Children’s Book Project Grant awarded the library with an original total of 68 books with a total retail value of $1,200.08, which were all on display Saturday for interested children and families to see and check out.
Even more books were provided by individual donors on top of the 68 provided through the grant, bringing the total up to around 100 titles.
The Oregon-based Pilcrow Foundation was founded in 2013, and focuses on providing children’s books to rural libraries across the country.
To receive the grant, the library had to match $400, which they raised through patron donations.
“We’ve been applying for this grant for almost 20 years,” said Winfield Public Library Director Regina Sperry. “It was one of the first grants that I started applying for.
“It’s a very fulfilling grant, because it’s easy for us to do with just a small matching amount. We can choose how much, they give us levels. But we have always been very fortunate to have the community, and over the years, there have been different civic clubs that have donated the matching grants or there are individuals I’ve had donate over the years for the matching funds.
“But we have been blessed to receive that in each cycle for the maximum, which is the $400 matching. This year the rule was that your matching funds can’t just come out of your general budget, so I can’t just ask city to write me a check. We do have to raise the funds somehow.”
Programs Director Hannah Birdsong said she was also thankful for the community and the donations they provided.
“Regina has applied for this grant every year that it has been available, and what they do is ask for a certain amount of matching funds, and they’ll match whatever we put forward, and we were able to contribute $400 this year,” Birdsong said. “That came from our book sale and our donations. We are really thankful to the Winfield community, because that’s who it came from. They’re one of our big donors, and we thank them so much for doing that.
“We were able to receive over 100 children’s books. We have non-fiction, biographies, fiction, graphic novels, juvenile fiction and picture books.”
Birdsong said that the goal of the checkout fair was to celebrate receiving the grant with the library’s patrons.
“Today what we wanted to do is have an event where people can come in like a book fair in school, but everything is free,” she said. “That was kind of the idea. We wanted to show what the library is, that we have all these books and it is free. Also when you go to a book fair you have all those little goodies like bookmarks and pencils and stuff, so we wanted to give those away for free, as well. None of this could be possible without our amazing patrons.”
Sperry said part of what makes this grant so special is the freedom recipients have to choose what books they get.
“We get to choose from different books at different age levels, and all the books on the list are award-winning books,” Sperry said. “And this year, because we have gotten it so many times, we were able to fulfill series that we got in the past.
“One of the requirements is that once we get the grant we are to publicize the grant in some form of celebration. And I’ve done different celebrations over the years, but we just thought this would be a fun way to get kids to come in. We thought the book checkout fair would be a fun way to get kids to come in and draw attention to see the new titles and hopefully check several out.
“That’s why we’re also offering free bookmarks and things to get the feel of a book fair, because I know the book fair was always my favorite thing at school, and I wanted the books, but I also wanted the trinkets.
“We just also wanted it to be a family event, which is why we’re doing the family basket giveaway...It’s one of my favorite grants, because it covers a lot of age groups and helps us keep our children’s books up to date, and it’s hard to pick a bad title from their list.
The library was also able to obtain a few extra books.
“Not only did we get the normal $1,200 worth of books, they always add some additional free books. This year they added another 18, so not only do we get the grant amount for our matching, the science and math books are worth another $400, and they also did a fourth program that added another 18 books about health and wellness. They had individuals all over who were part of the donors.”
Donors included Drs. Bill Strawbridge and Meg Wallhagen of California who donated 18 books about health and wellness, Delta Kappa Gamma who donated a copy of “R is for Rosie,” Mr. Hal Berenson and Mrs. Laura Ackerman of Colorado who donated 23 math and science books and Shout Mouse Press who donated four books.
Sperry said she missed doing events like this during COVID, and it was nice to do something like this again.
“That’s why I wanted to do something a little bit more extraordinary for it, instead of just displaying them, and hopefully getting the word out that we have these wonderful titles,” she said.
The library has several other ongoing programs this year, including programs for children, teens and adults, such as the summer reading program, LEGO Club, Dungeons and Dragons, job seeking with help from the Hamilton Career Center on June 15, and a free Canva software design class on June 22.
See complete story in the Journal Record.