Like many public libraries, Brookfield (IL)Public Library had a problem with unsupervised kids hanging out at the library after school. The children gathered in the cozy youth area and due to space constraints, seemingly overtook the library. Their youthful exuberance was considered by some to be loud and disruptive. In response, Executive Director, Kimberly Coughran and staff decided to embrace the situation and developed the Brookfield Library After School Time.
“The idea of an after school initiative was perfect in itself” said Coughran, “and especially ideal for Brookfield due to the large number of latchkey children using the Library after school.”
BLAST provides structured after school enrichment activities for children in first through fourth grades. In addition to homework help and outdoor play, participants regularly experience new technologies and ideas through STEM activities. Another highlight is the special projects. One year, BLAST kids designed a mural that lined the basement hallway as their own “Thank You” to library volunteers. Recently, the group drew pictures of their ideal library. The pictures were then used during a Community Engagement Session.
Last fall, BLAST received a grant from the Target Foundation for Reading is a BLAST! The goal is to both enrich the Library’s collection and the students’ personal collections with materials chosen or suggested by the participants themselves.
Since its inception in the winter of 2012, the program has been so popular that local schools now include the library as a bus drop-off point and a lottery is used to determine which eighteen children will be able to participate. Coughran and her staff would love to expand the program but there just isn’t room. The library would like to build a new facility and is currently working with the community and village toward that end.
For more information, http://www.brookfieldlibrary.info/BLAST
All photos courtesy of Brookfield Public Library