Two new community-focused programs will be coming to the Enumclaw library, thanks to the first-ever Enumclaw Community Creators contest.
Teen services librarian Tandra Solvey announced the contest at the beginning of the year, which allowed the Enumclaw community the chance to not only pitch program ideas to library staff, but even get their programs funded.
“Using generous funding from the LaFramboise Memorial Endowment, local librarians will partner with our winners to sponsor and develop their programs so we can bring them to the community for free,” Solvey said in a press release.
Out of the 12 submissions, Solvey and the other librarians picked two programs to receive funding this year — Escuela de la Vida (School of Life): A Spanish Language Series and Community Connections: An Interest-Based Connections Board.
Instead of just being a one-time program, Escuela de la Vida aims to bring a series of events to the Enumclaw library throughout 2019.
One of the organizers of Escuela de la Vida, Sebastian Rodriguez, said his goal is to bridge the gap between the Hispanic and white communities of Enumclaw, and bring in more community services for everyone.
“Once we start working together, we can bring more community services from Seattle, from Olympia, to this community,” he said. “This community… is a little bit far away from Seattle, from Olympia, from Tacoma, and sometimes it’s hard for people to reach the services they need.”
While nothing is set in stone at the moment, Escuela de la Vida organizers are meeting in March to start discussing what resources they have available to them and what events they want to host.
Rodriguez said he has several ideas he wants to implement, from hosting a workshop to help Hispanic students look and apply for scholarships, finding someone to teach English language learning classes, and bringing in community health organizations to help screen for diabetes, test for blood pressure, and potentially offer cheap or free dental services for the whole community.
The Community Connections program, organized by Janis Laybourn, aims to connect adults through shared interests, whether it be hobbies, intellectual pursuits, or various activities.
“When I go into the library, the first thing I check on are the donated magazines that people leave for other people to pick up,” Laybourn said. “About three years ago, I noticed that somebody had donated a publication related to Frank Lloyd Wright, and one of my passions are Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture.
“I went to the librarian and asked if they had a message board or someway to contact other people who had similar interests, and they said no, they didn’t have anything like that,” she continued. “So when the Community Creators article came out in the newspaper, I submitted an application for something that would allow people in the community with shared interests to connect with each other.”
Laybourn added that this will be a physical message board — not online — because setting up and monitoring a website would be too expensive.
She plans to meet with librarians in March as well to discuss how to manage the board, which may include creating a questionnaire to discover what common interests library patrons have, as well as potentially setting up monthly themes for the board, to keep things fresh.
Solvey said it was fairly easy for libraries to choose to fund these programs.
When it came to Escuela de la Vida, “We saw a pattern of similar requests from multiple sources and that’s a strong indication that we have opportunities to meet a need,” she said. “Community Connections was also an easy choice because we have the potential to use existing KCLS resources — our physical space, a bulletin board, and our talented Graphics Team — to create something that celebrates interest-based connections. Both ideas are exciting because members of our community will take the lead in the larger vision, goal setting, and facilitation.”
Already eyeing next year’s contest, Solvey hopes to better engage children and teenagers, as everyone who submitted an entry this year were 25 years old and up.
“As a Teen Services Librarian, it’s personally and professionally important to me to see youth appropriately reflected in this community-focused project,” she said. “Also, with improvements for next year in mind, we plan to check in with our winners throughout the process to find out what worked well for them and what didn’t. Later, we’ll also ask for feedback from our patrons who attend Community Creators programs. We hope to take the feedback we receive in 2019 to improve our reach and impact in 2020.”
To read a Spanish version of the Community Creators contest results, go to kcls.org/blogs/post/community-creators.