OSWEGO, NY – Hundreds of children took part in a birthday celebration today (April 11) inside and outside at the Oswego Public Library. The guest of honor was parked in front of the library on East First Street.
It was one year ago today that a contingent of volunteers returned to Oswego from a journey to Ohio to check out a bookmobile that was for sale.
They were riding into the Port City in the bookmobile. It was a deal they couldn’t pass up; a deal that would create an opportunity to provide literacy programming for Oswego’s youth.
Shortly before the trip to Ohio, a group of volunteers had convened to brainstorm ways to reach children who weren’t participating in various programs offered throughout the community and through the schools, according to Terie Delahunt-Daino, one of the organizers of the bookmobile project.
The group concluded that some children were missing wonderful opportunities based on where they lived and the only solution was to bring programs to them, she explained.
A bookmobile was their answer.
Oswego’s bookmobile would operate differently from traditional bookmobiles. It would deliver free books that wouldn’t have to be returned. The bookmobile would also deliver encouragement, modeled reading and activities to complement reading.
And so began the adventures of Oswego’s bookmobile.
Last year, the project reached more than 1,200 children and distributed 3,859 books during it first summer program.
Program planners are expecting to distribute just as many books this year and are focusing on a smaller number of children.
“Our goal is to reach emerging readers who are at risk for reading regression,” said bookmobile volunteer Deana Masuicca of the YMCA. “We want all children to love books and all children are welcome on the bookmobile. However, we will focus on delivery areas to those children who otherwise wouldn’t have the means to get to the library or bookstore. Our goal is to ensure that every child in Oswego has a book.”
In addition to the celebration as the first year of having a bookmobile program in Oswego, April 11 also marks National Bookmobile Day.
National Bookmobile Day is coordinated by the American Library Association Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services, and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.
It is an opportunity for bookmobile fans to make their support known – through acknowledging their local bookmobile program.
During today’s celebration in Oswego, students drew pictures in chalk on the sidewalk and parking lot near the library. The created illustrations of the bookmobile, their favorite books and drew birthday greetings for the bookmobile.
As one of the colored balloons adorning the bookmobile slipped off and raced skyward, Delahunt-Daino quipped, “It just wouldn’t be a birthday party without at least one balloon escaping.”
Jalayla Finster said she loves books and enjoyed the celebration.
“I had a good time on the bookmobile,” she said. “There are so many books, it was hard to just pick one.”
The scavenger hunt, held in the Children’s Room, was her favorite activity for the day. Youngsters searched the room for more than four dozen crumpled sheets of paper. “Winner” was written on some of the papers entitling the holder to a special prize.
The festivities also included a birthday cake, created by Cake Galore.
Masuicca, who shares her birthday with the bookmobile, was the volunteer honoree on behalf of the bookmobile who got to blow out the solitary candle on the cake.
“My second favorite would be picking the books out of the bookmobile,” she added. “I like to read. ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ is one of my favorites. I think books are so much more better than movies, you get more reading a book.”
Alissa Murdoch agreed.
The five-year-old said she had fun looking at all the books on the bookmobile.
“I like it when someone reads to me,” she said, adding that is why “the library is my favorite place!’
Besides the scavenger hunt, children could also create drawings of their favorite books or play pin the candle on the birthday cake in the library’s Community Room. They also signed up at the bookmobile for special prize drawings throughout the event.
Attending the ceremony were founding donor representatives Tammy Holden from Entergy, Tom Schneider of Pathfinder Bank, and Sheena Solomon from The Gifford Foundation.
Also on hand were Assemblyman Will Barclay and Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen.
Founding sponsors provided funding to purchase the bookmobile in 2011.
Burger King provided hot chocolate for the event and Price Chopper supported the birthday party with balloons and paper products.
Entergy and Pathfinder presented checks, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to renew support for the 2012 summer program.
While many gently used books are donated to the program, the steering committee continuously purchases new books to keep up with student demand and to provide books that are currently high interest, Delahunt-Daino noted.
Funds also support the maintenance of the vehicle and other events that the bookmobile participates in throughout the year, she added.
The Oswego Bookmobile, also known as Driving Books Home, is a community based project that is guided by SUNY Oswego, the Oswego City School District, the YMCA and Oswego Public Library.
All services and books provided by the bookmobile are free.
For more information about the bookmobile project, visit www.oswegobookmobile.org or call the bookmobile office at 341-2033.