APRIL 27, 2021 NEWTON COUNTY LIBRARY RECEIVES NATIONAL GRANT FOR SMALL AND RURAL LIBRARIES $3,000 Grant Will Help the Library Create Outdoor Library and Community Use Area
JASPER, Ark. – April 27, 2021 – JASPER — Newton County Library has been selected as one of 517 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities.
The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library create an outdoor space for library and community use. The library recently received a grant from the Home Depot Foundation for 4 picnic tables and 2 raised beds, which should be in place by mid-May. The Libraries Transforming Communities grant will further develop the outdoor library space to bring community education and interaction outside of the building and onto the library’s grounds. The funds will also be used to increase visibility and awareness of the library, its mission, and its functions.
“NCL’s goal is to promote the library’s grounds for library programming and community use by creating a welcoming and engaging outdoor space, a commons, to be used during the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and after the pandemic is resolved,” said Library Director Kenya Windel. “While the library as a community center is not a new concept, the need for it in an accessible outdoor space has become evident. While some libraries were more equipped for that need, NCL was not. We are planning modest improvements and enhancements to complement NCL’s rustic yet engaging outdoor space.”
As part of the grant, Windel will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Windel will then host a conversation with residents about resources available in Newton County and use the grant funds to create a functional outdoor space for small gatherings, library and community programming, and community use. Funds will be used to purchase signage, umbrellas for the picnic tables, a pet litter bag dispenser, an animal-resistant trash can, plant ID signage for the gardens, and materials to build a Story Walk.
In addition to equipping county citizens with the knowledge they need to access community resources, the overarching purpose of this project is to develop and promote community unity in a safe space on common ground. Windel hopes that exploring the topic of community resources will help county citizens grow their understanding of others, other organizations, their experiences, and their missions and provide space for the diverse identities of Newton County’s rural population. Windel says the library outdoors is also going to be a nice place just to have lunch with a friend on a pretty day.
If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact Kenya Windel at (870) 446-2983, or visit www.newtoncountylibrary.org for more information.
Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff. “Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).”
APRIL 22, 2021 Astronomical Telescopes Now Available at the Library
Tutt Campbell (right), ANSA volunteer, delivering the first telescope to Newton County Library Director Kenya Windel (left).
JASPER, Ark. – April 22, 2021 – The Newton County Library in Jasper is pleased to announce that library patrons are now able to check out a good quality astronomical telescope to take home and enjoy.
The Arkansas Natural Sky Association (ANSA) is spearheading this Rural Library Telescope Lending Program, initially in seven counties along and near the Buffalo National River corridor. ANSA is an Affiliate of the International Dark Sky Association. ANSA first recognized the potential of the BNR to qualify for International Dark Sky Park status. They worked with the BNR management and staff to make necessary changes to park lighting practices and complete the application. In 2019, the BNR was awarded the first International Dark Sky Park certification in the state.
ANSA State Chair James “Bruce” McMath said “Our mission is to lead the effort in Arkansas to restore and preserve our natural night sky environment, free of the light pollution which has crept over much of the state in recent decades. One of our strategies for working to achieve this mission, besides working to reduce unnecessary night time lighting, is to educate, motivate, and encourage Arkansans to get outside at night and see what a treasure our night sky truly is. The counties surrounding the BNR offer outstanding night sky views, especially at the time of the new moon, without moonlight obscuring the thousands of stars visible in these less light polluted skies.”
The source of funding for these telescopes is by NASA via the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium. ANSA volunteers do the work from grant writing, ordering materials, customizing the telescopes for patron use, training library staff, and making presentations on telescope use and other night sky topics.
Each library has an ANSA affiliated volunteer amateur astronomer to guide staff and patrons in their use. According to Newton County Library’s volunteer Tutt Campbell “These telescopes are not toys but at the same time, no prior experience is needed. Adult supervision, however, is required to get the most out of the experience and ensure safe use by children. We are providing the ANSA publication “Learning the Constellations” by Robert Togni, which includes simple, easy to follow instructions on use of the telescopes and an introduction to the night sky throughout the year. In addition, patrons will find links on the telescopes telling them where they can find online videos showing their use. The single most important bit of training essential for safe use is for patrons to NEVER USE THESE TELESCOPES TO LOOK AT THE SUN as permanent eye damage will result.”
In addition to the new telescopes, the library has been provided with a “Sky Quality Meter”. Patrons can check out the meter to measure the “darkness” of the night sky at their home or other locations, and provide that information to an ANSA managed database.
Newton County Library Director, Kenya Windel, said “We are very excited to be able to offer our patrons the opportunity to check out and enjoy these telescopes and look forward to seeing them in constant use. Patrons will be asked to confirm their address and sign a simple agreement making sure they are clear on the terms of check out and then will be allowed to check out a telescope for a two-week period. We’re really pleased to have been invited to participate in this program and would like to thank NASA, the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, and the Arkansas Natural Sky Association for bringing them to us."
If you would like to find out more about the Arkansas Natural Sky Association, you can visit their website at www.darkskyarkansas.org or their Arkansas Natural Sky Association Facebook Page for more information. For more information, or to help support the ANSA Rural Library Telescope Lending Program, you may contact ANSA program coordinator Allan Staib at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JANUARY 14, 2021 Newton County Library Teams Up with Ozark Mountain School District, Jasper School District and Deer-Mount Judea School District to Expand Access to Ebooks and Digital Audiobooks Shared goal to provide digital materials in the community, especially during remote learning
“We are so proud of and grateful for the Newton County Library's partnerships with our schools and districts,” said Kenya Windel, Director at Newton County Library. “As a service-minded organization, we hope this partnership acts as a supplement to their wonderful school libraries by putting more digital reading resources at students’ fingertips. This partnership is also an excellent example of the goals of the Arkansas Department of Education's Reading Initiative for Student Excellence (R.I.S.E) in action.”
The library-school partnership provides safe access to thousands of age-appropriate titles for students’ use inside the classroom, at home and anywhere 24/7. Through Sora, the new student reading app for Ozark Mountain School District, Jasper School District and Deer-Mount Judea School District, students can now borrow the school’s collection of classroom and pleasure reading, and also access Newton County Library’s juvenile and young adult digital collection. In addition, Sora supports teachers by offering education-specific tools like achievements, exportable notes, and reading progress that encourage individualized learning.
Todd Parker, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development at Jasper School District, added, “Jasper School District is happy to join in partnership with the Newton County Library to offer a wide variety of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other digital media to our students. We are excited for the opportunities and possibilities this new partnership offers to our students and our teachers!”
Melissa King, Federal Programs/Curriculum/Assessment coordinator at Deer-Mount Judea School District, agreed, “We hope this partnership acts as a supplement to our school and classroom libraries by providing more digital reading resources for our students. We love any opportunity to promote the importance of reading to our students and our community.”
The Sora app was named one of TIME’s Best Inventions 2019 and is available for Ozark Mountain School District, Jasper School District and Deer-Mount Judea School District students to download through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and on Chromebooks that support the Google Play Store. It is also available for use in web browsers at https://soraapp.comon any computer.
Since Newton County Library is a member of ArkansasLibrary2Go, the entire Newton County community can also borrow and read ArkansasLibrary2Go’s complete ebook and e-audiobook collection. With a valid library card from Newton County Library and the award-winning Libby app, patrons can enjoy thousands of ebooks and digital audiobooks including bestsellers and new releases. Readers of all ages can select from virtually every subject ranging from mystery, romance, children’s, business and more. Libby can be used on any major device or computer, including Apple (R), Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle(R) (US only).
Both reading apps are built by OverDrive and OverDrive Education. To learn more, visit https://meet.soraapp.com/and https://meet.libbyapp.com/.
About Newton County Library The Newton County Library is a small, rural public library located in Jasper, Arkansas. NCL's mission is to provide its diverse, rural population with materials for and access to information; services; and educational, recreational, and cultural experiences in an increasingly technology-driven world. NCL has a physical collection of more than 22,000 items, including a library of things, and as a member of the Arkansas Library 2 Go consortium, NCL provides access to a digital library of over 40,000 ebooks, digital audiobooks, and streaming video. Since 1994, NCL has operated at its current location at 230 South Stone Street, serving individuals and families who live, own property, work, or go to school in Newton County, as well as temporary residents, residents of adjacent counties, and visitors. Visit NCL at www.newtoncountylibrary.comor on Facebook and Instagram @newtoncountylibraryark.
About Ozark Mountain School District At Ozark Mountain School District, we foster an environment where knowledge and excellence are valued, and individuals become productive citizens. Working through data analysis and instructional strategies, we will ensure that students become life-long learners that respect and accept the differences within themselves and others.
About Jasper School District With 615 beautiful square miles – we’ve got the Ozark Mountains, the Kings, Mulberry and Buffalo Rivers and Boxley Valley, after all – we’re one of the largest land-area districts in Arkansas. In 2004, the Jasper School District welcomed the Kingston and Oark districts into our family. And while we became one district with one mission, we remain three distinct campuses located in three different counties – Johnson, Madison and Newton.
About Deer-Mount Judea School District The Deer/Mt. Judea School District was created in 2004 when the two districts consolidated. Both campuses have been educating students in Newton County since the late 1800s. Our campuses are located in the Ozark Mountains so whether you are traveling to our Mt. Judea campus in the valley or the Deer campus on the mountain, you will see some beautiful Ozark Mountain scenery. Our district believes in educating our students in a student-focused learning environment that prepares students for college/career and life.
About OverDrive and OverDrive Education OverDrive strives to create “a world enlightened by reading.” Serving a growing network of 65,000 libraries and schools in 84 countries, OverDrive – and its K-12 division, OverDrive Education – delivers the industry’s largest digital catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other content through award-winning apps. The Libby reading app for libraries is one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the Decade, while the student reading app Sora is one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and was named a Certified B Corp in 2017. www.overdrive.com