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Army of New Librarians Training to Make Learning Fun

"For children, learning is play, and play is learning," Shelley Davenport said. "So we want to make this fun."

Existing library programs for kids are being expanded and layered with expert advice.
Existing library programs for kids are being expanded and layered with expert advice.
Editor's note: This is the second story in a multi-part series focusing on an array of improvements coming to Anne Arundel County libraries later this month. (Part 1)

Libraries across Anne Arundel County are in the process of reinventing themselves by focusing on programming to entertain kids while teaching adults.

Educational and activity programs at libraries, like Babies in Bloom and Toddler Time, have long been solace for parents looking for tips on how to engage their children with learning. Soon, parents will have even more options, and the activities will be bolstered with expert advice. Some programs will also take place during evening and weekend hours for working parents.

These are a few of several improvements being implemented across Anne Arundel County after additional funding kicked into action in 2014, granting all 15 branch libraries more than 30 new employees and unifying its operating hours.

Throughout January and February, these newcomers are meeting with experts to train on improving the county's early literacy rates. 

Shelley Davenport, the programming and outreach librarian for Anne Arundel County, said the county's school readiness rates have stagnated at 86 percent over the last three years. She hopes to change what learning means for kids at that age, so that they'll have a chance at a better start in school.

"For children, learning is play, and play is learning. So we want to make this fun, " Davenport said. "We want them to walk away from the library thinking it's a fun place, a positive experience, so that when they get to school, learning is a positive experience."

In addition to expanding programs such as Babies in Bloom, Toddler Time and Preschool Storytime, libraries will be launching outreach programs in areas that have historically been underserved, Davenport said, including minority populations and children with special needs.

"In many ways this is what we've been doing. I don't need to tell them what to do. We're just doing exponentially more of it, and along the way, we're helping each other to learn. It's very exciting, Davenport said. 

The expanded programming begins March 1 at all 15 branch libraries across the county. For more information on activities and dates, visit the official county library website.

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