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Six local public libraries win state grants

Library users in at least five Franklin County towns will benefit from this year’s round of federal grants funneled through the state library board.

The New Salem, Erving, Wendell, Shutesbury and Leverett public libraries all received grants, the latter four in a combined application. A Greenfield proposal also got the nod, but that money is temporarily uncertain.

The Erving, Wendell, Shutesbury and Leverett libraries will share $10,000 for special programs in each library targeting science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The Mass. Board of Library Commissioners highlighted science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM, programs this year.

The four-town grant “will level the educational opportunities in STEAM for all early learners in rural areas,” according to a release from the board. The libraries are to conduct 30 two-hour programs for preschoolers, working with schools, the Community Network for Children and agencies including the Boston Children’s Museum, Legoland Discovery Center and the Hitchcock Nature Center.

Erving Library Director Barbara Friedman, who wrote the grant, said programming will start in the fall and run through spring.

The preschool-oriented programs under consideration include math and science in the kitchen, exploring simple machines and Lego Duplo (big Lego blocks) workshops exploring topics from the ABCs to rescue services.

The New Salem Public Library won $15,000 toward “serving teens and tweens.” Library Director Diana Smith said the plan is to redesign the young adult section and hire a coordinator to plan young adult programs such as technology, resume and cartoon workshops over the next two years. Smith said the grant isn’t final until a contract is signed, although she has no intention of not signing a contract.

The Board of Library Commissioners awarded the Greenfield Public Library $10,000, but Library Director Ellen Boyer said whether that money will be spent is up in the air. The application was for money to upgrade the library website to be compatible with mobile devices and training library staff in the use of the new technology for better customer service. Unfortunately, the author and intended administrator of the grant is leaving, and Boyer said she is in the process of determining whether that responsibility may be transferred to another staffer.

The Board of Library Commissioners awarded a total of $608,100 in 46 grants to public, academic, school and other libraries across the state.

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