Settling down to read a good book can be therapeutic for the young and not-so-young. The Barry Robinson Center’s Education Department recognizes reading for pleasure offers many benefits for youth. That’s why they’ve recently opened a new school library for residents.
After several months of planning, reconfiguring space, collecting books, and cataloging them, the staff opened the new library for business on Monday, March 7. Teachers and residents are excited to begin using this resource.
“Every school should have a library, and our staff worked hard to create this one,” said Eric Krumich, vice president of education. “Our residents asked for more reading material, and we’re grateful to everyone who helped us create this library to meet their need.”
Jen Stajnrajh, education testing specialist, took the lead in getting the library ready for use.
“I set up the library by inputting books into our new online library catalog system that the kids can access to see what inventory we have. Currently we have 1,000 books and that number is growing,” she said. “I’m excited to be a part of this opportunity and eager for the residents to have access to many different genres of books. The library is a safe space for residents to think, share and grow.”
Students can use a few minutes of class time during English and Language Arts to check out books one day each week. With titles ranging from classics to contemporary, the library features a wide array of books for teenagers. Staff curated the books carefully to ensure appropriate content for youth in treatment.
“Young people should be reading more than their class assignments,” Krumich explained. “Reading for pleasure can help teens develop their own comprehension, writing and vocabulary skills. It can expand their horizons, taking them to other parts of the world and introducing them to other people.
“Through reading, youth can also see how people experience life and solve problems,” he added. “It helps them to know everyone faces challenges and offers them examples that may be applicable to their own lives. And finally, reading really is fun. We want our youth to develop a love for reading that continues after they discharge and return home.”
Although BRC purchased some books to round out its collection, the center received donations from several sources in the community. Among the larger donations was a truckload from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach. Stajnrajh is also working with the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library in Virginia Beach on book donation.
“We received so many books, especially for younger children, that we’re able to donate what we can’t use to other organizations,” Krumich said.
The new library has generated quite a buzz, Stajnrajh said.
“All the residents are very excited for the library to finally be open, and the teachers are too. We’ve heard comments like, “This is so exciting and ‘This is going to be fun. I hope the library will create more opportunities for BRC in the future, and this is just the beginning.”