SAUGERTIES, NY — The Saugerties Public Library’s New Free Book Project is offering bags of new books for young readers at nearly a dozen outlying locations around town.
Therapist Nina Schmidbaur, who sits on the library’s board, said the program, which started last week, aims to promote reading among under-10s. The program is aimed at families who do not currently use the library and those with limited financial means. , she says.
“Families can have trouble accessing the library for all sorts of reasons,” Schmidbaur said. “They may live further away and not have access to a computer at home to access the library’s digital programming.”
She noted that the library’s computers and printers are already widely used by people who may not have a computer at home or have constant access to the Internet.
The books, packaged in high-quality tote bags small enough for a child, are currently available in 11 different locations, she said. “We’re thinking of places outside of the village on the outskirts of Saugerties, or places where kids sitting with families might get bored.”
The library hopes to eventually expand this to 25 different locations.
“Each bag contains three books,” Schmidbaur said. “They have a little tag on each bag that says ‘take me home’.”
At each location, people will find a bag with books in English and another in Spanish with the label on the outside also written in Spanish.
Each library board member is assigned three locations to deliver books, she said.
“We have developed relationships with people in these places,” she says. “They call us once the bags are all taken. “We track site locations to see which ones have the most demand.”
The bags also contain information about the Saugerties Public Library, a map of the village showing how to get to the library, and information on how to get a library card. It should also be noted that the books were donated by the library.
“Kids can walk around with bags once they’ve finished reading the book,” Schmidbaur said.
She said that so far the library has purchased 115 new books from the Inquiring Minds bookstore, which has locations on the corner of Main and Partition streets in the village and in New Paltz. She said the library used to work with independent bookstore owner Brian Donoghue.
“He often gives us a discount, since he works with a non-profit organization,” she says.
All of the books have a social, emotional and feel-good component and are strategically chosen, Schmidbaur said. “The authors are really well known for providing high quality content.”
“We look beyond a child’s academic or physical needs, to emotional regulation and the ability to socialize to have positive social relationships,” Schmidbaur said. “I’m a therapist who works with children, and these are the books I had in my office in the school districts I’ve worked in.”
She said the library includes authors who live in Saugerties, including Karen Katz, who wrote “Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale” nearly 25 years ago.
“It was the first book she wrote and she was living in Saugerties while she was writing this book,” Schmidbaur said. “Then she started a series of books about behavior modification and helping kids understand their bodies.”
She also wrote tracks such as “Where’s Baby’s Belly Button/” and “Counting Kisses”.
Schmidbaur said the books have also been translated into Spanish and are featured in both languages.
Also featured is Todd Parr’s “Book of Feelings”. “It’s a staple book used in the therapeutic community and in many elementary schools,” she said.
Another title is Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” which features similar themes to Winnie the Pooh, Schmidbaur said. “It’s whimsical, philosophical and it’s all about connection.”
For more information about the Free Book Project, email Saugerties Public Library Director Jennifer Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the library at (845) 246-4317.