SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Public Library was recently awarded the New Jersey State Library's 2018 NJ Best Practices in Early Literacy Award for its story time programs. The $1,000 award, in the form of a grant, recognizes the library's program as a model for others. 

Jackie Oakes, a children’s librarian overseeing tween and pop culture programming for the South Plainfield Library, applied for the grant and was on hand to accept the award from NJ State Librarian Mary Chute at the June 1 New Jersey Library Association Annual Conference held in Atlantic City. 

According to Oakes, the grant is a good fit based on the library’s various story times; currently, the South Plainfield Public Library holds weekly Story time & Craft, Time for 2s & 3s, and Baby time programs. In her grant application, Oakes described the rationale behind the library’s popular story time programs, how they are publicized, and how they benefit the library and overall community. Oakes also included quotes from parents who attend these story times. 

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Oaks told TAPinto South Plainfield that the main focus for this grant was to explain the components that make a successful event, and how these components can be improved upon to make these storytime programs ‘the best that they can be.’ The library plans on using the grant monies toward craft supplies and to purchase additional rugs to help accommodate the growing attendance at its storytime programs. “[One of] the key components of this grant ... was to find all the different ideas that libraries are doing and to publicize it so that other libraries could tag along on the idea,” said Oakes, adding that she was ‘extremely happy’ when she learned the library had won. 

The 2018 NJ Best Practices in Early Literacy Award is the second of two grants recently bestowed upon the South Plainfield Library. In April, the library was awarded a $750 Talk Story Grant from the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) for its efforts in helping to spread stories about different Asian cultures.

Oakes also plans to apply for additional grants in the future. “Whenever I see a grant opportunity that fits [the library’s] criteria or that there is a possibility that we can win, I am definitely going to write [the grant proposal],” said Oakes. 

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