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A new program from West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s education team is giving children access to libraries near and far.
Library Pathfinders is a virtual program that offers children in grades PK-5 the opportunity to visit their local community library — as well as libraries across the state of West Virginia — from the safety of their home. These young Pathfinders will visit each participating library, spend time with a PBS Kids character, watch a video, complete activities, and play games. Participants will fill out their Pathfinder Journals with code words associated with each library location, as in a passport. Upon completion of their journal, participants will be asked to submit a photo of it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A special prize will be mailed to them.
Library Pathfinders is a partnership among WVPB and five participating Inquire Within libraries, including Burnsville Public Library, Mason County Library, Boone-Madison Public Library, Clay County Library and Webster-Addison Public Library. WVPB Education Specialist Harrison Evans created the program during a time of pandemic restrictions. He sees the resource as invaluable for children who may not have access to a local library.
Despite beginning during the pandemic, he hopes to grow a stable of Inquire Within participating libraries to offer the Library Pathfinders program. “Now children have access to several libraries and that’s so exciting for them,” Evans said. “We have worked with libraries that have restrictions on visitation, which has created hurdles for hosting events and for visiting in person. The hope with this program is to give both libraries and communities an opportunity to interact safely.
“We think a Pathfinder is an explorer who goes ahead of others creating a path for them to follow,” Evans said. “The program is named in honor of the five libraries that created that path, and I hope that other libraries and other youth organizations join us on the journey.”
Burnsville Public Library is another Inquire Within participant that can be discovered by young Pathfinders. “We are extremely privileged to have the relationship that we have with West Virginia Public Broadcasting and to be included in the Library Pathfinders initiative,” Director Beth Anderson said. “Our hope is that our involvement will encourage children to explore our great state and visit virtually the libraries involved with Library Pathfinders. West Virginia Public Broadcasting never ceases to amaze us with the programs they develop. Library Pathfinders continues that tradition.”
Building excitement for young Library Pathfinders is the goal of the staff at the Clay County Public Library. “We are so excited to be a part of this new Library Pathfinders Program,” said Sheila Thorne, Library Director. “We are looking forward to launching it for our children and hope to get more children excited in the educational programs that we have to offer with the help of PBS Kids content and the Inquire Within programs. We are looking forward to a much stronger comeback from the COVID-19 situation with more online and in-person activities with the kids. I think that they will totally enjoy this Pathfinder experience and getting to visit other libraries outside of our own area. I would love to see this grow into a statewide project.”
It’s all about learning something along the way for Pathfinders who explore Mason County Library. “Being selected to be a Library Pathfinders Library was an honor! We have enjoyed our partnership with WVPB – they are so helpful and the educational content that they share with us adds so much to our library programs,” said Cindy Williams, library program coordinator. “The children who choose to take the Pathfinders challenge will have fun with all the activities and will likely learn something along the way. Way to go WVPB!”
Children can discover Webster-Addison Public Library along their Pathfinder journey. Director Lorene Carpenter said her staff is pleased to give access to kids beyond the bounds of its community. “West Virginia Public Broadcasting is a platform that gives more credibility to our children’s programming,” Carpenter said. “We believe that the videos/activities will provide the children and parents a sense of pride and personal involvement in the library, which encourages more participation as they lead the way. With this newly furnished activity and the virtual feature during the pandemic, children will be excited to explore the provided activities. We also hope to use this medium to take another step in enhancing education, keeping both parents and children involved.”
Learn more about Library Pathfinders here. For more information about Inquire Within and to learn how your library can be a Pathfinders library, contact Harrison Evans at email@example.com.