STEUBENVILLE – It’s not big, expensive or flashy but a new exterior “addition” at the Sycamore Youth Center marks another chapter in how the non-profit organization delivers a positive story about the lives of at-risk youth in the region.
The Little Library is a partnership between the Steubenville and Jefferson County Public Library and the Sycamore Youth Center, making access to books and reading an easy on-the-go proposition for kids.
And this is a goal achieved by the director of the center Bobbyjon Bauman.
“The small library gives children the opportunity 24/7 to choose a book they like and take it home to read or have them read.” Bauman explained the open-air library he had envisioned for three years.
Children will be able to take and leave objects in the shelves, all in order to increase access to books. Adults are invited to fill the shelves of the small library with lightly used books.
“We’re just trying to increase literacy in Jefferson County, and it’s been a dream of mine for over three years to have one of these little libraries at the Sycamore Youth Center,” Bauman said.
“It was something (the former volunteer) Paula Stevens and I talked about bringing to the center, and we’ve had a few people over the years who have said they will do one for the center, but it doesn’t has never happened until now “, he said.
Its presence and operation are win-win.
“It’s taking what we do in the library and offering it to the rest of the community” explained Sarita Asawa, director of community outreach for the library system.
“The little free libraries are great because they are open 24/7, kids can take the books home, you can take them and leave them. It is a great community effort to increase access to children’s books ”, she said.
Local artist Maria Perez designed the small, free library with paintings from popular children’s books, including “The little Prince,” “Where the wild things are” and “The hungry caterpillar.”
Questions about the Small Library can be directed to Bauman by calling or texting (740) 409-4986.
Having the outdoor library in place is important to Bauman, who explained its potential value.
“I read books to my children when they were young, and my parents read them to me too, and I noticed the importance of a child’s success in school and his ability to read.” Bauman said.
“We had a great response as we had a number of individuals and groups who contacted to donate or donated books,” Bauman said, adding that, “We have probably 200 books to donate in stock so far.”
For those unfamiliar with how an outdoor library works, Bauman offered an overview of what is not a conventional library, for example, involving reading a book.
“You can bring them back, but if a child decides to keep the book, that’s fine with us. “ Bauman said. “The books are not checked out and the library is always open, so the books are not tracked like a conventional library does.”
The Little Library is a “library only for children, and we are looking for around 5 to 15 years old, because that is the age of almost all the children who go to the center, but of course any child is welcome to pick up a book”, Bauman added, noting that he was grateful for the addition as well as the continued response to the center.
This includes the free after-school classes it offers.
“We had our largest participation of children ever with 133 on Monday, and we have an average of 65 children after school each day and including our Saturday program about 350 per week. “ Bauman said. “We have 85 volunteers serving at Sycamore each week in 51 classrooms. We’ve had over 500 at Valley’s Got Talent this year and have provided over 10,000 kids meals every Friday this year at Sycamore and East Garfield and at nine locations through our mobile pantry during the summer ” , Bauman said looking back at 2021.
“It’s been a great year, and it looks like the Lord’s hand is on Sycamore and wants to see growth for the future of the children of the Ohio Valley.”
Some Christmas awareness activities are on the December schedule for the Sycamore Youth Center, with the center presenting “SyFest” and one “Nativity game” Friday.
“We are having an open house for the community at 5:00 p.m. followed by an event featuring singers and dancers at 6:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m. our theater program will present their nativity play that they have been practicing since the beginning of October. “ Bauman said.
The 5 p.m. open house with walk-in classes for the whole family will include games, arts and crafts, cooking, martial arts, math competitions and wood-burning with the 6 p.m. shows in the sanctuary, including students playing dance, songs and instrumental pieces. they worked on this semester. The “Birth of Jesus” The students’ play in the drama class at 7 p.m. will be followed by gifts for the children and refreshments.
Next is the free Sycamore Mobile Christmas party on December 10th.
“We are heading to the north end, south end and hilltops to have a mobile Christmas party for kids from Kindergarten to 12 years old, offering free gifts, hot chocolate and decorating time. cookies and art projects’ Bauman said. Santa will make an appearance at each stop.
The schedule is 4 p.m. at the Green Space on Maryland Avenue; 5 p.m. at the Elmer White Family Units in North End; and 6 p.m. at Earl Rogers Plaza in the South End.
A “Christmas Day” will take place at the center on December 16 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature a live performance by Lynzee Ensell, who performed at the recent Valley’s Got Talent and was the overall winner, in the dance category. There will be free gifts, photos with Santa Claus, cookie decorations and drawings.