July 29, 2016
Library program targets mobile home parks
Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Kristin Kashuba, with the Dryden Central School District, supplies books to a miniature book barn Thursday. The book barn is for families at Little Creek Mobile Home Park in the town.
DRYDEN — Sitting atop two concrete blocks shaded by trees toward the entrance of the Little Creek Mobile Home Park rests a small red wooden barn-like structure full of books.
It is a library. A 16-by-16-square-foot library stationed there year-round. All of the books are donated and free for the residents in the mobile home park to take.
This is the first year for the Little Library, which was established in the mobile homepark by the Solar Express program — a summer traveling library program of the Dryden Central School District. Theprogram is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is looking to grow beyond its traditional mobile library idea, establishing more small libraries permanently stationed in mobile home parks, said Seth Kotler, a member of the Solar Express program and ninth-grade reading teacher at Dryden High School.
Kotler and Kristin Kashuba, a second-grade special education teacher at Dryden Elementary, travel to six mobile home parks throughout the summer from Ithaca to Dryden with an 8-foot trailer filled with hundreds of books, snacks and crafts.
The program is funded through grants and all of the books are donated. At eachmobile home park, anyonefrom a toddler to an adult can take a book and keep it, or return it whenever ready. Kashuba said they were getting back books that had been taken out last year.
The program provides kids who might not have a lot of access to books, or who are having trouble reading, a free nonjudgmental way to get a book they are comfortable with, Kotler said. One of the reasons mobile home parks were chosen as the locations is to better reach a lot of kids in an environment they are comfortable in.
“They’re not being pushed to read a certain book as they may in school,” Kashuba said.
It also allows younger kids, not yet in school, to get an early start on reading.
“We try to get appropriate books in their (the young kids) hands before entering school,” Kotler said.
That’s what led to creating the permanent small library. Kotler said he wanted to create away to make the books more readily available to the kids, and through conversations with colleagues, the small wooden barn-like library was donatedto the Little Creek MobileHome Park.
Kotler said he would like to see that concept grow and hopes to get donations to expand to other locations.
“The more we can do, the better the program will be,” Kashuba said.
The two visit the mobile home parks every Tuesday and Thursday until Aug. 11, at hours that can be found on the Dryden School District’s website. They typically see about 55 kids a day, Kashuba said. But with the permanent libraries, an assortment of books is alwaysavailable.
And they have plenty of books to keep a fresh rotation of literature in the trailer and the Little Library, as the basement of Dryden High School is stocked with them. However, the Solar Express team always welcomes donations, Kotler said.
“I’m always looking for ways to help close the reading gap before kids start school,” Kotler said.
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