Creating Community Through StoryWalk

I think we can all agree that making our libraries more visible in the communities we serve should be one of our most important goals.  One great way to do that is to work with your community to install StoryWalk.  StoryWalk® is a fun and innovative way for people of all ages to exercise their bodies, as well as their minds. The library-sponsored StoryWalk in Dover is located in the City Park around a charming pond. As you take your walk counter-clockwise around the pond, you will come to 17 posts which contain 2-page spreads of a children’s picture book. By the time you have come full-circle, you will have read a book in its entirety.  StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and was developed with the help of  Rachel Senechal of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalks® have been installed in 50 states and 11 countries including, Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia and Pakistan. Thanks to the City of Dover and our post sponsors, the Dover Public Library has been able to bring StoryWalk® to the Dover, Ohio community.  Each month a new story is installed in the StoryWalk posts. We make StoryWalk titles available for sponsorship for only $50 (covers the purchase of two children’s books which need to be cut up and laminated individually). If you sponsor a story, you may choose a title (pending Library approval; must be family-friendly and no more than 32 pages long). You may also make the story more personal by adding a short bio or a write-up explaining what the story means to you.

To be completely honest, StoryWalk for our library has been a public relations bonanza.  Working with the City of Dover has been great and the project brought a lot of attention and publicity to both the library and the City of Dover.  We encouraged local civic groups like Rotary and Exchange Club to sponsor a post ($350), as well as individuals in the community.  My parents, for example, sponsored a post in memory of my older sister, Jenny, who passed away in a car accident.  Dani Gustavich, our Children’s Services Manager, was the person who brought StoryWalk to my attention.  It was her passion and commitment to getting the funding in place that made the project a reality.  Dani planned a wonderful ribbon cutting ceremony that included invitations to city officials, sponsors, and members of the community.  On top of that, children’s author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand’s book, Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! was selected as the very first title to be featured in our StoryWalk.  Hillenbrand himself came and read his book and participated in the ribbon cutting.

If you are looking for a great community project that involves multiple organizations and partners, then perhaps StoryWalk is right for your library.  For more information, go to: http://www.doverlibrary.org/kids/storywalk/

Jim Gill, Director
Dover Public Library

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