Williamstown Library aided by United Way

Editor’s Note: This is the next in a series of articles about the member agencies of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

WILLIAMSTOWN – Reading during the summer is important for children to maintain and improve skills they’ve learned in the previous school year and as they move toward the next year.

The United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley provides $2,500 to the Williamstown Branch of the Parkersburg/Wood County Library for its summer reading program, which is currently underway.

“The United Way support that we receive is vitally important to the summer reading program. They are our only means of finances, although some years I’ve been able to get finances from local businesses,” said Williamstown Branch librarian Nancy Morehead. “The United Way grant money is the lifeblood of this program, if it weren’t for them this wouldn’t even happen.

“We’re very, very thrilled to have that support from them,” she said.

This year, the six-week summer program began June 25 and is being held each Thursday through July 31, with 60- to 90-minute sessions each Wednesday. Depending on the number of children -normally between 20 and 50 – the activities may be held in the Williamstown Branch Library but if there are more kids involved, it will be moved to the Tomlinson Park shelter for that day’s activities, Morehead said.

This year’s theme is “Fizz, Boom, Read,” a science-based series of reading and activities. Among this year’s planned activities will be a trip to the planetarium at Marietta College and a presentation about solar energy by Pickering Associates. As part of the Pickering Associates program, the children will learn about a program called the African Clinic Solar Power Project.

“I thought this year it might be nice – since United Way gives to us to do this program – it might be nice for the kids to learn to kind of pay it forward,” she said.

Morehead will be giving the children sponsorship forms and if they choose, they can seek sponsors for each book they read with the proceeds benefiting the clinic project. The money raised by the children will be matched by Pickering, she said.

Along with activities centered around books and reading, some of the other activities planned for this summer’s program are experiments with color (tie-dyed t-shirts), a magician and face-painting duo, robot-building using tin cans and a variety of hands-on experiments.

Morehead said she worked with Williamstown Elementary School to develop a list of books recommended by teachers to prepare for the coming school year. Her goal is to keep children reading and keep their reading skills from growing rusty in the summer, she said.

With the help of the United Way, Morehead has also started to give pre-school children a book every quarter to take home and start their own home library.

“They can have a boost on reading before they get into school,” she said.

The Williamstown Branch Library also offers a variety of other services to the local community. Those include a story hour every other Friday, along with free notary service, fax machines, computer stations, copiers, music and DVDs to check out, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines. There is also a home delivery service for Williamstown residents who are permanently or temporarily disabled, she said.

The library is open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

The Williamstown Branch Library, located at 201 West Fifth St. in Williamstown, originally opened in 1974 as a bookmobile. As a requirement to be a Bicentennial Community, Williamstown needed to create a “horizon” (lasting) project and the library met the criteria to serve residents of all ages all year round.

The building and original book collection were funded by the West Virginia Bicentennial Committee, the West Virginia Library Commission and local funds. The library opened to the public on Dec. 19, 1977.