Tuesday, August 24, 2021

On the Road


It was very hot. The remarks by local notables were brief. The star of the show was a brand-new, brightly colored van. 

Yes, you can have a ribbon-cutting for a van and, in this case, I thought the glittery blue ribbon was particularly appropriate.

Drumroll, please.


On the Road to Kindergarten

This mobile pop-up library brings preschool classes and resources to neighborhoods without ready access to library branches. With the goal of preparing children for kindergarten, our instructors will bring the pop-up library to communities throughout Howard County. The unit will also serve as a mobile hot spot, providing internet access to the nearby community during each stop.

On the Road to Kindergarten mobile unit instructors will:

  • teach classes
  • lend books, activity kits, toys, and other library materials
  • lend Chromebooks and hotspots
  • provide information on library classes and events
  • provide information on community resources/service
This initiative is made possible by a Howard County Government Rise to the Challenge Grant, Friends & Foundation of HCLS, M&T Bank, the PNC Foundation, and the HoCo Balt Book Club. I’m beginning to get a better grasp on how things like this can’t happen with out partnerships. 

And this, my friends, is a truly amazing thing. It is not your grandmother’s bookmobile. (Although they were great!) The Pop-up library van brings books, toys, and media to where they are most needed, but also early childhood instruction, computers, and internet access. It takes the resources of the library and all the many connections that entails to children and families who need the most support.

As was mentioned yesterday by County Executive Calvin Ball (and I’ve certainly written about it here) Howard County may have some of the highest incomes in the United States, but it also has a very high cost of living. For some members of our community that means working multiple jobs just to get by. This means less time and less money for the kinds of enriching experiences that foster healthy early childhood development and school readiness. 

It doesn’t surprise me that this great idea comes from the Howard County Library. They’ve always been the sort of folks who are willing to get outside the library buildings and go to where the people are: visiting schools, supporting Battle of the Books, and, most recently, partnering with OMO during the pandemic to provide supplemental online programming. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.

Yesterday was a great day to celebrate partnerships and new beginnings.

It was also very hot. Did I mention it was hot? This is why I made it through the speeches and ribbon cutting but departed before getting to see the inside of the van itself. There were multiple professional photographers on hand so as soon as I can get some interior views I will share them with you. I’ve seen a couple on social media and I can’t wait to see more. (See below for a few shared by others.)

As an early childhood educator I am so excited to see this venture begin. I’m grateful for the library system for taking the initiative to make it happen, and to the leadership shown by Howard County Government and the generosity of partners and individual donors. The years from birth to five are crucial for setting a healthy foundation for life: speech and language, social/emotional development, cognitive growth and much more. The On the Road to Kindergarten Pop-Up Library Van is responding to a very real need with the best that HCLS has to offer. 

I look forward to watching this initiative unfold. 

Photo credit Ellen Giles

Photo credit Mickey Gomez

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