Nation heads to the library

Promotional material by children's author Nancy Elizabeth Wallace for Take Your Child to the Library Day.

It was a Saturday morning in early December of 2011 and Nadine Lipman, head of children's services for Waterford Public Library at the time, was on her way to work when she heard a commercial for Take Your Child to the Bookstore Day.

A bell went off in her head.

"I thought it sounded interesting and that it might work for libraries to get more families coming in," recalls Lipman, who retired last April, but will always be a passionate advocate for public libraries.

Lipman approached Roslyn Rubinstein, director of the Waterford Library, about creating a Take Your Child to the Library event and Rubenstein gave her two thumbs up.

Along with Stratford librarian Caitlin Augusta, Lipman got the word out on library listserves and other Internet postings, and a grassroots movement that began at one public library in Waterford spread throughout the state-and then the nation-as librarians jumped onboard. Everyone came up with their own events: storytimes, musical performances, scavenger hunts and art activities to celebrate reading and create more awareness about all local libraries have to offer children and families.

Take Your Child to the Library Day was launched in February of 2012 with more than 120 participating libraries from 25 states and 15,000 attendees. Lipman says that more than twice as many libraries are participating in this year's event on Feb. 2.

Lipman and Augusta created a partnership with the nonprofit Connecticut Library Consortium (CLC), promotional publisher Upstart and children's book illustrator/author Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, who has donated an original piece of her signature cut-paper artwork to be used as the Take Your Child to the Library logo on posters, bookmarks, a programming guide and other materials for sale to libraries via Upstart.

Royalties from product sales will be returned to libraries and children through CLC. Wallace is donating her percentage of royalties to Read to Grow-a Connecticut-based nonprofit committed to building literacy from birth.

"It really was one of the highlights for me that Nancy Elizabeth Wallace did this for us," Lipman says. "The art is so children-friendly and colorful. It just looks really cool, to use on things to hand out to kids and families as a remembrance."

Despite how easy and affordable it is nowadays to purchase and download books without leaving home, Lipman adamantly believes that nothing can replace a bricks and mortar library.

"Starting with younger ones, libraries offer storytimes, build socialization skills, teach parents the right way to read-how to point things out, ask questions relating to what's in the pictures- you don't just open a book and read," she says. "It's a way of bonding with your children or grandchildren, coming to the library or a library program. Exposure to the library also helps children develop a life-long love of learning."

Lipman points out that in this economy, people often don't have the finances for leisurely pursuits, but they can bring their kids to the library to play, use the computers, attend special events, listen to and take out DVDs, audio books and music CDs-and it's all free.

Wallace says she offered to create an original piece of art for the logo as soon as she heard about Lipman's idea from Deb Verrillo, children's librarian in Northford, because, like Lipman, she believes it's very important to keep kids going to the library.

"I wanted it to be a family going to the library at all ages and stages in our lives," Wallace says of her art. "I wanted it to be bright and fun, have energy and movement. They are excited to go!"

Wallace has fond memories of her mother taking her to the little local library and coming home with a stack of books to devour.

"Dot, the librarian, was ever welcoming and truly an anchor in our community and for the children as we read and grew," she says.

"Libraries offer a safe place to go, cozy places to read and play, developmentally appropriate and wonder-full programs," Wallace continues. "And librarians are smart, creative, warm, caring encouraging adults who, like Dot, can become important people in children's-all of our-lives."

Nadine Lipman, former head of Children's Services at the Waterford Public Library, helped to launch Take Your Child to the Library Day in 2012. The event has gone national.
Buy Photo Sean D. Elliot/The Day Nadine Lipman, former head of Children's Services at the Waterford Public Library, helped to launch Take Your Child to the Library Day in 2012. The event has gone national.

IF YOU GO

What: Take Your Child to the Library

When: Sat., Feb. 2

Where: Libraries everywhere

Info: ctlibrarians.org; www.highsmith.com/upstart or call 1-800-448-4887

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