Telling and Preserving Stories

Library Award Empowers New Community Programs

Two women at the Georgetown Public Library are carrying on former Library Director Eric Lashley’s innovative legacy—one via a program focused on telling stories and another on preserving them. With the goal of encouraging innovative project ideas from library staff members, the Friends of the Georgetown Public Library presented the inaugural Eric Lashley Trailblazer Award along with $1,000 to Margaret Lange (at right with  Eric Lashley) and Joyce May to kickstart their Sensory Storytime and History Harvest programs.

PRESERVING STORIES

Through History Harvest workshops, the library hopes to preserve the often-overlooked stories of Georgetown’s historic black and Hispanic Track-Ridge-Grasshopper and San Jose neighborhoods. The project would be patterned partly after the successful Archivist in a Backpack project launched at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and aims to empower these neighbors to record and preserve their own histories for future generations. The program will offer two types of kits—an oral history kit with a digital sound recorder and a digital scanner kit featuring a scanner to digitize items like family photos and memorabilia.

A love of history and missed opportunities to record her own family stories inspired Adult Services Member Joyce May to create the History Harvest workshops. “As Georgetown changes and grows, it’s important to have voices heard and history kept alive,” she says.

TELLING STORIES

After noticing some children found storytime overwhelming at the library she previously worked at, Margaret launched Sensory Storytime, a program that has continued its inclusive mission at the Georgetown Public Library. “I’ve had family members on the autism spectrum. These are programs we love to have seen when they were storytime age, so the fact that I’m able to make them happen here is very fulfilling,” the teen services librarian says. “We’re going to be an even more welcoming library than we already were.”

Children with sensory processing disorders often find the traditional storytime environment stressful because of the many participants, more informal structure, and higher levels of noise and light. During Sensory Storytime, young library patrons can enjoy an environment tailored to their needs, with fidget toys, reduced lighting and noise, a limited number of participants, and a consistent visual schedule to ensure predictability for kids who get distressed by small changes. A time of free play will be offered at the end of the event, which Margaret says is essential for developing interpersonal skills with other kids.

To learn more about Sensory Storytime and the History Harvest workshops, visit library.georgetown.org.

The Georgetown Public Library has become more than just a place to check out books. It’s now a community hub, with everything from programs for all ages to author talks and art exhibits.

One of the ways the library serves the community is through Second-Hand Prose, a volunteer-run used bookstore operated by the Friends of the Library that functions as a major fundraiser for the library. Volunteers dedicate their time every month to manage the store, provide on-call assistance, and sort shelves.

For many, the bookstore is a much-needed literary oasis during COVID. “During the past year and a half, it was pretty tough for some people who felt so isolated,” Manager Terrie Hahn says. “You should have seen the smiles on people’s faces when they could come to SHP again and browse for those special books and actually have in-person conversations with other people!”

Learn more about Second-Hand Prose at folgeorgetown.org/shp.

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