Thanks to a generous contribution of $30,000 from the Junior League of Santa Barbara, the Youth Services Department at the Central Library of the Santa Barbara Public Library System is developing a variety of educational programs to promote a love of reading in the community.

Library programming supported by the gift includes class tours for elementary school groups, pajama story time, family art workshops in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and a “stuffed animal sleepover.”

Youth services staff also will enhance the library’s annual Summer Reading Program by coordinating volunteer “reading buddies,” read-together events and summer camp visits.

Research shows that summer reading programs and independent reading boost school achievement and help prevent learning loss over the summer. When the next school year begins, the library will be able to continue connecting “reading buddies” with local students and hosting class tours in tandem with the Museum of Art. In addition, plans are being made to add informal drop-in homework help at the Central Library.

The Junior League of Santa Barbara has chosen “Improving Youth Literacy” as its impact focus area. Members were challenged to use their imaginations to create events and fundraisers to support library programming for families, and their success has made a significant difference in what the library can offer.

Junior League members also have been directly involved with children at the library. Over the last two years, they have planned and hosted book parties and themed craft events at the library branches.

A productive collaboration between this local philanthropic women’s organization and the library is ongoing. The library appreciates the Junior League of Santa Barbara’s commitment to supporting youth literacy in they community, and the financial and other assistance it has contributed toward this goal.

— Gwen Wagy is a youth services librarian for the Santa Barbara Public Library System.