Serving Our Community’s Children

Prendergast Library Partners With Local Organizations To Expand Its Role

Kids explore the principles of science, technology, engineering, art, and math in the makerspace

The library exists to serve our community, and we are here for children and teenagers who don’t always have a safe place to go after school – and who don’t always have enough to eat.

With the help of local organizations including the YMCA, 5 & 2 Ministry, and the Jamestown Jackals, the library is doing more than ever to improve the lives of young people coming into the library. On a typical day, the library may see anywhere from 15 to 45 children and teens who use the library as a safe space. Many of these kids are regular visitors to the library, coming in six days a week and staying until we close in the evening.

We see more kids and teens relying on the library in this way than ever before – and we are here for them, even as we receive less funding. Our staffing has decreased dramatically – from 36 employees in 2012 to a staff of just 15 today – but nonetheless we are determined to meet the needs of our community. With our limited budget and staffing, this sort of growth is only possible thanks to partnerships with community organizations.

Last summer, the library partnered with the YMCA to provide free summer lunches to children and teens at the library. A total of 984 lunches were handed out to children and teens at the library, with YMCA staff organizing outdoor games and activities as well. We plan to continue this program this summer to ensure that children who rely on free lunch at school do not go hungry during the summer months.

The library has established a new partnership with 5 & 2 Ministry to provide after-school snacks to children and teens in the library throughout the year. Many of the children who visit the library daily come straight from school and stay until closing time – some have nowhere else to go, and many tell us they are hungry. Now these children have a reliable source of nutritious snacks after school, thanks to the food donated and delivered to the library by 5 & 2 Ministry.

The marble run is a popular activity that encourages cooperation and problem solving.

As more children come to the library, we are seeing increasing attendance in our makerspace, where visitors of all ages can experiment with new technology, work with staff on daily science-themed activities and learn through independent exploration and play. Kids can unwind from their school day by playing with Legos, working on arts and crafts, or choose to challenge themselves with something new like programming robots or designing and printing 3-d objects. Literacy skills are vital to understanding STEAM concepts and lead to success in all subjects.

With encouragement from the Jamestown Jackals, who visit the library weekly, more kids are visiting the makerspace and trying out more challenging activities. The Jackals spend time in the children’s room and teen computer lab as well as makerspace, and whether they’re playing board games with the kids or just hanging out and having a conversation with them, the Jackals serve as mentors and role models for children and teens at the library.

After seeing a positive response to the Jackals at the library, we are working towards a partnership with the Chautauqua Striders as well. By developing community partnerships, we continue to pursue our goal of doing more with less, as we strive to meet the very diverse needs of our community.

Kids can learn how to design 3-d printed objects in the Makerspace.

Along with serving lunches, YMCA staff led outdoor activities for children at the library

The library was a summer lunch site for the first time in 2018

Volunteers with 5 & 2 Ministries delivering food to the library


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