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Library outreach brings books to Sandy Vista kids

n Katie Murphy hopes to reach apartment residents, both young and old

The Sandy Public Library not only is working to streamline internal operations, it is also expanding outward. Staff members and volunteers regularly take the show on the road to offer library resources to residents of the Sandy Vista apartment complex.

For several years, the library has been conducting an outreach program for the Sandy Vista Apartments.Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Katie Murphy said the kids interest in graphic novels has sparked a comic book-themed project.

According to Katie Murphy, an on-call clerk at the library and one of the program’s main coordinators, the program began about six years ago as a story time for Spanish-speaking preschoolers.

The Sandy Vista community provides housing for farm workers. Murphy said about 99 percent of the apartment residents are of Hispanic descent.

When the program began, Murphy said she and a translator would go out to have story time for the community’s smallest kids, trying to make the library’s programs more accessible. Unfortunately, it wasn’t initially successful.

“Like three kids would show up,” she said. Eventually she learned that many young children were in programs that took them away during the day.

The next year, Murphy showed up by herself. Once, she held the program on a day when school was out, and many grade school students showed up with their younger siblings.

“I thought, ‘What if we do a grade school program?” Murphy said.

This year, the library’s program is being expanded. In addition to doing activities with the kids, now once a week on Thursday evenings, the team of library staff on site can issue library cards, bring requested books and check them out to the kids.

“They’d get a little frustrated because we’d bring books in and then take them back,” Murphy said.Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Library volunteer Jesta Knoles passes out books that kids requested the previous week. The kids can check them out each week.

Previously through the program, Murphy said, the staff had established an on-site library for the Sandy Vista Apartments through book donations. Now, those books are being given away to the kids or left in the community area because the youngsters can now access library books remotely.

In the past, children have worked on putting together a book of their own based on stories or poems they wrote about a particular topic. This year, because of an interest in graphic novels, Murphy is helping them put together their own comic book.

During their weekly meeting Thursday, Oct. 16, kids gathered to color in pre-cut thought and speech bubbles, then combine the words to make scenes.

Throughout the afternoon, many older kids dropped in to return previously checked-out books and receive other books they had requested.

“We’re really excited about being able to do that this year,” said Monica Smith, the Sandy Public Library children’s librarian. Smith attends the project’s outreach days once a month.

In addition to teaching the kids that the library can be a fun place, Murphy enjoys working with them on building confidence.

“I try to tell them how great it is that they speak two languages,” Murphy said. Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - On Oct. 16, Halloween-themed books were brought for kids to read on-site or check out.

She explained that after learning English in a classroom, many of the kids are trailing behind other students. Murphy hopes the extra practice with language and reading that the program brings to the apartment complex can help the students succeed.

While most of the program’s attendees are ages 3 to 12, sometimes parents will check in. Murphy hopes to expand outreach efforts to older residents at Vista as well.

“The world has become so virtual — people aren’t as aware that the library is still here,” Murphy said. “There are more and more people who really aren’t that tuned in to all that’s available here.”

The library now has access to a mobile circulation system that will help improve their now handwritten check-out system at the Vista Apartments, once it is up and running. Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Throughout the Thursday evening program, kids drop in to return previously checked-out books and pick up ones they requested.

A few kinks are still being worked out with the system that consists of an iPad and mobile scanner and printer that will have access to the library’s circulation system.

Once staff members have full access to the system, Murphy said they plan to do a lot more outreach in other Sandy communities.

She said they plan to attend all neighborhood-sponsored meetings with the mobile station to give out library cards.

There is also a program in the works with Sandy Grade School for the station to visit the students there, give out library cards and bring popular library books for them to check out. Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Jesta Knoles, right, and Brittany McLaughlin, left, library volunteers, pose with word bubbles created by the kids at Vista Apartments.

“We will continue to look for other outreach opportunities as we move forward,” Murphy said.