FOLMC and its 17 chapters fund many different initiatives for MCPL, including new technology, community programs, staff development, and materials and equipment for library branches. Funds from our members, donors, and bookstore customers provide enhancements to the Montgomery County government’s annual budget for libraries, and we help MCPL move forward as a 21st century library. Here is a small sample of the major projects FOLMC has recently funded for MCPL.
Last year, FOLMC ensured that more than 13,000 children in Montgomery County reaped the benefits of participating in MCPL’s summer reading program. The program encourages children to challenge themselves by reading as many books as they can during the summer break. We have funded summer reading efforts in Montgomery County for over 25 years, including performers, incentives, marketing materials, and other support for library staff. Children who read during the summer get a head start on the school year. In 2015, summer reading participants fought the summer backslide by reading over 83,000 books! For more information, visit MCPL’s summer reading page.
As part of MCPL’s All Children Excel (ACE) initiative, FOLMC and our 17 chapters help fund many STEM activities. Programs such as Build the Future open LEGO sessions, Mini-Maker hands-on projects, and Science Spectacular science experiment performances are developed to provide opportunities for conversation, exploration, and interaction. These programs and STEM stations located throughout the branches focus on critical thinking, creativity, and innovation to encourage higher-level skills to help youth excel in educational and vocational settings.
FOLMC proudly funds Go! Kits, stocked with take-home books, science tools, iPads with educational apps, parent tip sheets, and more to get children excited about science, technology and math (STEM) subjects. Each kit features an age-appropriate theme, such as the Solar System, Weather, or Robots (among many others). Go! Kits are currently available at eleven MCPL branches with our goal to help expand kits to every branch. Go! Kits are especially needed in branches that serve lower-income families so that all children may have the opportunity to benefit from the educational advantages that technology offers.
All 21 branch libraries in Montgomery County now feature the FOLMC-funded early literacy computer stations that provide safe, fun learning environments for young children, without the option of connecting to the internet. These innovative computer stations are designed to appeal to children with touch screens, colorful keyboards, and millions of hours’ worth of literacy education apps to explore. Most of the educational apps are available in English and Spanish.
FOLMC provided funds for Studio i, the Digital Media Lab at Long Branch library, a 21st century creative space especially for teens who may not otherwise have access to such equipment. The lab provides the opportunity to explore all the possibilities of digital media including equipment to record videos, such as a green screen room, handheld camera, and iMovie software. For more information, visit MCPL’s Digital Media Lab page.
MCPL staff work hard to provide quality materials and programs at 21 library branches, and each year FOLMC and MCPL administration bring them all together to learn, celebrate accomplishments, and build stronger teams. Every Columbus Day, the entire MCPL staff meets at the Silver Spring Civic Center to attend workshops, receive awards for their work, and discuss what’s happening in their branches. FOLMC has been funding this initiative for several years.