Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation played key role in pandemic pivots

When it became clear that 2020 would chart unknown territory, Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Executive Director Paul Pitkin pivoted and rolled with the punches.

Even amid the uncertainty and unpleasant surprises the coronavirus pandemic delivered, donors kept giving so the Foundation could keep supporting important Sno-Isle Libraries programming and customer-support initiatives.

Much of that Foundation assistance helped Sno-Isle Libraries staff find innovative ways to move in-person programs and events online.

In addition, the Foundation has supported Sno-Isle Libraries’ work by bringing digital services to communities through the Opportunity Fund. The fund provides laptop computers and portable Wi-Fi hotspots so families and students with outdated computer technology and limited internet access can use the library’s numerous digital resources, along with other community services.

The Foundation provided more than $96,000 from its Opportunity Fund to help pay for 124 laptops to launch Sno-Isle Libraries' Laptops to Go loan program.

Outside of the new online world, the Opportunity Fund has also supported the Home Library Project that has distributed 4,550 books to 455 families to support children and parents in developing literacy. There are 10 books per bag in the Home Library Project. Books are geared towards babies   toddlers and elementary school-aged children, some of them bilingual.

“Home Libraries give children the opportunity to access their favorite books at any time and build mastery through repetition,” Pitkin said. “With schools closed or restricted, they are critical to developing literacy. For children, there is nothing quite like reading an actual book, and all the titles are for them to keep.”

In the coming year, the Home Library Project will expand its focus to include tweens and teens, so that people of all ages can benefit from the literacy development provided by the Home Library Project.

The Foundation has also continued to support the Third Grade Reading Challenge and summer reading programs by supplying books, incentives and support for other Sno-Isle Libraries programs. 

The Foundation helped Sno-Isle Libraries make numerous programming pivots during 2020 to move events online.

“The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Board and our stakeholders have been so grateful for the library staff’s ability to adapt to the continually changing circumstances brought on by the pandemic,” Pitkin said.

For the new year, the Foundation will continue to fund technology that bridges the digital divide, providing hardware and assistance to seniors so that they can have unlimited access to library resources. The Foundation will also provide enrichment to students by bringing in the best minds in our region to educate and advise our future leaders. The Foundation will also bring the best authors to our customers through the Open Book Author Series.

“The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation is committed to enriching our communities, and you can help us do that by making a donation today,” Pitkin said.

Donations are accepted online at sno-islefoundation.org/donate.

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