WOODLAND PARK, NJ - The Alfred H. Baumann Free Public Library had a banner year in 2016.

It began with the launch of its literacy campaign #WPreads. Adorned with the library’s signature #WPreads button, Mayor Keith Kazmark joined the library by declaring 2016 “The Year of Literacy” in Woodland Park at the 2016 swearing in ceremony in municipal council chambers.

The library started its campaign with the rollout of the “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program. The mayor and council members partnered with the library by visiting local pre-schools to spread the word about the importance of early childhood engagement in literacy.

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The library was fortunate to have literacy expert, Dr. Lauren Kazmark, accept the role of library ambassador. Dr. Kazmark provided valuable resources and used her role to advocate for the public library and its role in providing quality early childhood programming and resources. In 2017, the library looks forward to creating a “1000 Books and Beyond” program for older children to expand our ongoing initiative.

“The many programs that the Alfred H. Baumann Public Library has offered this past year is a testament to their commitment to offering quality early literacy programs to our kids,” Kazmark said. “I am proud to be a Library Ambassador and support their work.” 

The library’s award-winning program, Baby Tales Learn and Play, allows babies to explore with their senses, while parents and grandparents learn literacy tips and techniques to encourage their children at the earliest age to develop a life-long love of reading. The tone and cadence of the words in a book or the rhythm of songs and nursery rhymes, the expressions on a parent’s face, and repetition are just a few of the important factors in literacy development of children birth through 18 months.

The library’s quality early-literacy programs also provide the availability and access to books to help parents help their children achieve developmental milestones. Other early-literacy programs include Little Wonders, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Story Time Adventures, which are offered during the day and in the evening for working parents. In 2016, the library experienced a record number of enrollments in its early-literacy children’s programming.

The library’s annual summer and winter reading programs furthered its initiative throughout the year. “Summer slide,” the cumulative loss of learning during the summer months, is a serious concern for parents and educators. The Alfred Baumann Library presented the “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read,” summer reading program, to help children close the achievement gap by discovering the joy of reading through quality programming and providing access to books. The  “End of Summer Celebration,” for program participants, reflected the success of the program, with over 300 people in attendance.

The library’s partnership with the Woodland Park School District is second to none.

Its longstanding relationship enables the library to work as a team to provide quality resources, information, and support services for students. Library staff was present at all back-to-school nights, kindergarten registration, orientation, and the kindergarten ice cream social sponsored by the mayor, council, and library. The library also hosted all Memorial Middle School classes, providing presentations to the students about the history of our Library and how to use library resources.

Our youth services librarian also visited Passaic Valley Regional High School to demonstrate Hoopla digital and our online resources. In March, the library held its ninth annual Dr. Seuss Day to celebrate Read Across America. Students and teachers from Charles Olbon and Beatrice Gilmore schools were featured in presentations for the community. Mayor Kazmark, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michelle Pillari, and youth services librarian Allie Steiger read a Mo Willems book together. In April, the library joined in the mayor’s Arbor Day celebration, reading and dedicating a book, “The Happiness Tree,to the fourth grade students of Beatrice Gilmore School at Dowling Gardens.

If you happen to stroll along the Morris Canal, specifically the stretch above the library, you will find the Little Free Library. This small enclosed housing for books uses the “take a book, leave a book” concept of spreading the joy of reading throughout the community. This project came to fruition through a partnership with Passaic County and the Borough of Woodland Park. The Little Free Library was installed last April. A second Little Free Library is planned for Zaccaria Park later this spring.

Just in time for Woodland Park Day, Eagle Scout candidate Zachary Fitzgerald completed his project for the library. The Storywalk is a picture book that is mounted in a series of frames and placed outdoors. It’s an enjoyable way to discover books and exercise the mind while exercising the body. In the fall the Storywalk was installed on the library grounds. The library looks forward to sharing the Storywalk with the schools, Woodland Park day campers, and other community organizations.

S.T.E.A.M. – science, technology, engineering, art, and math –  is another way that the Alfred Baumann Library promotes literacy. The E.X.P.L.O.R.E. STEM kits were developed to stimulate learning and literacy through exploration, discovery, and creating. The kits are designed for use by children and families.

Additionally, the Friends of the Library (FAB,) along with the generosity of the Woodland Park Business Association, the Salomone group of businesses, and Palace Laundromat enabled the library to purchase museum passes to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim and Brooklyn Museums, and the Newark Museum. The cost of these passes reflected a 38 percent savings out of the 2016 programming budget and made it possible for local children and their families to have the opportunity to discover learning and literacy through a different medium.

The Alfred H. Baumann Free Public Library looks forward to continuing the #WPreads campaign through 2017 and beyond. The continued goal is to spread the word that reading opens up a world of possibilities. The library staff, with the support of its residents, the governing body, and its community partners looks forward to providing access to quality materials, programs, services and community outreach in 2017.