Tue, Jan. 21

Jerome children's library a reality
Donations making librarian's dream come true

In Jerome, ideas often take hold and turn into action on an empty-pockets budget. It's part volunteerism. Part stubbornness. Mostly it's can-do determination.

Otherwise, much of what gets done in this small mountain town wouldn't even get started. It's how the town's Civic Center became a reality. It's how the children's summer art program returns year after year.

So librarian Kathleen Jarvis wasn't discouraged when she wanted to add a children's section to the Jerome Library. "We had a dream for a kids' area," she said. "We also had a budget." Unfortunately, the budget had zero dollars for a children's library.

She and circulation supervisor Kelly Roberge decided that if they didn't start making it happen, it wouldn't happen.

Lack of money isn't unusual in Jerome. "We just started in, knowing we would get it," Jarvis said.

Roberge created a floor plan for the kids' library. Jarvis started writing proposals for donations and small grants. They knew it would take between $5,000 and $6,000 to do what they envisioned for the kids' section.

Next, they moved shelving out of the area where they wanted the new kids' section to be. They started moving books around according to how the section would look if they had any money.

That was around the first of June.

Soon, donations started coming in. APS kicked in $1,000. The Red Rooster Restaurant held a fund raiser and came up with nearly $900. Other donations came in totaling between $600 and $800.

Then, a few days ago, Phelps Dodge donated $4,500 to the kids' library. Now the dream is coming true.

"From no budget and just a dream we have the money," Jarvis said.

In fact, Jarvis and Roberge now have more money than they estimated they'd need to create the kids' area within the library.

Jarvis is busy thumbing through catalogs looking for learning materials and soft furnishings for a combination play and learning area. She said they are not focusing on toys. Instead, they're putting together everything needed to help children learn to read, improve motor coordination and develop their learning skills, such as how to tell time.

"I'm making my dream list," Jarvis said.

She also intends to ask the town council for enough budget to hire a part-time children's librarian. She figures about four hours a week will get that program off to a good start.

"Most programs will be on Saturdays," Jarvis said. She hopes eventually the kids' programs will expand to other days of the week.

Some program ideas Jarvis and Roberge have are for Story Time, Craft Time and Lap-Sit Story Time. Lap-Sit is a program that has small children watching animated presentations to help them begin learning and understanding words.

To that end, Jarvis has applied for a $350 grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation to start a Puppet Partners for Learning Program. The money will be used to purchase puppets and a puppet stage.

Jarvis said she is a little bit overwhelmed with how quickly this has all come together and -- most of all, with the generosity that has made it possible.

"I had Jerome parents going to Cottonwood to use the library instead of coming here," she said.

"This is going to be a state-of-the-art learning center for the kids of Jerome, straight from the Jerome Library."

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