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Plant City Observer Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 2 months ago

Local library enhanced by new programs, outreach

Plant City’s public library has a number of programs enhancing classroom learning and beyond.
by: Daniel Figueroa IV Staff Writer

Sereniti Robinson and her grandmother, Nicole Robinson, sat at a low, round table in the Bruton Memorial Library, heads bowed to the words below.

Sereniti, 5, sounded out the words slowly and intently as her grandmother looked on.

“Can,” Sereniti read, her braided hair swinging as she looked over to the next word. “Like. A. I.”

“Come on, you know it.” Robinson said, encouraging her concentrated pause.

“Tttt, th, the.”

And they both celebrated as
Sereniti, a kindergartener at Burney Elementary, finished her first sight reading assignment.

Robinson has been taking her four grandchildren to the library after school every day since last year. They spend 30 minutes doing homework, 30 minutes of free time on the

Sereniti Robinson, 5, completes her first sight reading assignment with help from her grandmother, Nicole Robinson, at the Bruton Memorial Library.

computers, then Robinson reads to them for an hour or so. Often, they take advantage of the library’s other programs like arts and crafts and visits from Bonnie, the therapy dog.

“They’ve enjoyed it so much, they want to come back every day,” Robinson said.

The library, John Russell, youth services librarian, said, is more than just a place to check out books. It’s a “people space,” a community space that offers more hands-on learning and engagement. As culture continues relying on technology, the library, he said, is adapting. Bruton offers programs featuring robotics, 3-D printing, maker spaces and can help teach important research skills.

“We can help filter the noise,” Russell said. “ It’s important to learn how to evaluate information that’s out there and get a deeper dive.”

Bruton is also participating in the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative’s new Hillsborough All Access Libraries (HAAL Pass) program. HAAL Pass allows Hillsborough county School District students to have instant access to library programs with no card, just a student ID number.

That allows students to check out books and have access to one-on-one virtual tutoring online. Robinson said the program has already benefited her grandchildren.

“It’s beneficial to them to have four computers so they can all be on at once,” Robinson said. “At home we only have one.”

A few years ago, Robinson said, her granddaughter Jazzmyne, 7, was considered a “troubled reader.” Robinson started bringing her to the library, using the available computer training programs and now Jazzmyne can “read anything I put in front of her.”


More than just a building

The library’s efficacy goes well beyond its walls, Maria Wyatt, migrant advocate for Bryan Elementary and Jackson Elementary said.

“It’s not just about checking out books anymore,” Wyatt said. “Kids have access to all kinds of resources through their computer system, especially with the new HAAL Pass program”

Wyatt said Russell makes frequent trips to the schools she works with. At Bryan, 84% of the 715 students are hispanic. Having bilingual options and Spanish-language books is crucial. Russell, she said, makes sure her students and their parents have access to those books and more.

“He’s (Russell) wonderful. The Library is wonderful,” Wyatt said. “We’re very blessed here in Plant City.”

One can even check out an experience through the library’s new Discovery Pass program. With the program, people are able to use checkout receipts to reserve free admission to area attractions like Big Cat Rescue, the Tampa Theatre, the Glazier Children’s Museum and more.

“The library is not just this building,” Russell” said. We are on the go. Bringing what we do in the library out in the community is very important to us. We have to stay connected with our community. It’s not just our success, it’s the students’ success. It expands our reach for the research needs and the recreational needs for our patrons. With students, every school year is a whole new wave of students coming in who need to know we’re here for them.”

Daniel Figueroa IV is a Staff Writer at the Plant City Times & Observer. He has been covering Plant City since 2017. Previously, he was the politics and veteran affairs reporter at the Ledger of Lakeland. He probably wants to ride motorcycles and trade books with...

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