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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Parents weigh in on redesign of Fairfield Children's Library

Published 4:59 pm, Wednesday, January 22, 2014
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The Fairfield Public Library is asking parents to help plan a redesign of the children's library.

In an effort to bring STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs to the library, librarians are asking parents to complete a survey to determine how they feel about the addition of science and technology programs for children, and whether they would use them.

"What we hope to do is to create an environment of curiosity that drives learning," said Mary Sorhus, the children's services librarian. "We're trying to understand how much STEM they're getting and would they be interested in attending more STEM programs."

The plan is to redesign one side of the children's library, housed within the Fairfield Public Library's main branch, now mostly occupied by book stacks and a few computers, and to plan the space around science and technology programs and displays, especially for children in third through sixth grades. Different activities the children might participate in there could include learning coding for different computer games, creating puzzles using different media, or other science activities including biology or chemistry programs, Sorhus said.

Research shows that more and better science and technology instruction is needed and that American children are behind their international counterparts in those areas, according to Sorhus. The STEM initiative also fits in with Common Core Standards that are being applied in schools throughout the state and nation, she said.

"We're focusing on STEM in particular because there's a need for it in every age group, in every demographic," the librarian said. "Even though Fairfield does very well in it as shown by test scores, it never hurts to have more of it," Sorhus said.

The library is also partnering with the Fairfield school district on the STEM initiative.

Karen Parks, deputy superintendent of schools, said the school district welcomes the opportunity to work with the library on the plan and programming.

"We are very excited about the possibility of working with the town librarian to secure a federal grant in support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," she said. "In addition to supporting the Common Core Standards, the STEM initiative in the library can support our students by opening their eyes and minds to new careers and technologies which are not available in our schools."

Fairfield school officials are also pleased to have an opportunity to pair students with library professionals and work together on the use of new technologies, Parks added.

Sorhus said the idea of updating part of the children's library to encourage children to engage math, science and other programs is exciting, as new technology continues to evolve.

"We're moving beyond the book," she said.

The short parent survey has been e-mailed to parents who have used the children's library recently and is also being distributed to patrons at the library. Copies are also available at the library, corner of Old Post and Post roads; the survey is completed anonymously.

The survey is also available online at the Fairfield Public Library's website: http://bit.ly/1eTj1K0.