Beyond books: Frankford library wins for innovation

Date Published: 
May 27, 2016

Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Frankford Public Library staffers, from left, Trina Coyle, Cindy Givens, director Rachel Wackett and Jessica Bowman gather to celebrate their recent award.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Frankford Public Library staffers, from left, Trina Coyle, Cindy Givens, director Rachel Wackett and Jessica Bowman gather to celebrate their recent award.The Frankford Public Library staff is working to reduce adult illiteracy and teach kids technology. On the way, their groundbreaking innovation has earned them the 2016 Library/Institutional Award for 2016 from the Delaware Library Association.

For director Rachel Wackett, the peer-nominated award “recognizes the fact that we’re being very progressive with the types of programming we’re offering … particularly with technology and STEAM.” Wackett has aligned the library programming toward basic literacy, creativity and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

The library staff has found new ways to interact with their community, said nominator Sarena Fletcher, an administrative librarian at the Delaware Division of Libraries.

“I saw that they were a small independent library, and they had the flexibility and the courage to try something new. At the time, I didn’t really know the staff very well. But they were doing things for the first time that nobody else in Delaware was doing that I knew about,” Fletcher said. “They took that risk, and it worked.”

The best kind of learning is fun. So playtime teaches teambuilding, creativity and design. Children really flock to Lego playtime, Lego Mindstorms robotics, Makerspace, “Make It Monday” and soon, Cubetto, a basic coding system with robots, for ages 3 to 5.

“We try to pick and choose things that appeal to a broad base,” Coyle said.

“Trina, one time, had all the students playing on Minecraft. They were building a library,” each from a different computer but on the same server, Wackett said. That has served as a beta-testing site for other library MinecraftEdu programs.
The staff said adults and children love problem-solving over KEVA Planks puzzles, and a recent donation will purchase a full set, as an active memorial to a late Frankford resident.

Meanwhile, Frankford also just won grant money for an adult summer reading program.

“I think everyone that works in a public library has many different titles, but I think my staff is excellent in their choices in programing, and being fearless and developing their content,” said Wackett, the library’s director since December of 2013.

“We have a really good team here. I think that’s what makes it work,” agreed children’s librarian Trina Coyle.

“They’re doing really awesome things, and people should know,” said Fletcher.

The Frankford Public Library was also one of five public libraries to offer the Summer Food Service Program for children.

Meanwhile, the library has revived Sussex County’s adult reading classes, a free program for adults who have gotten through life with low reading levels. Maybe they never finished school or always struggled with reading, but learners are partnered with volunteer tutors until they reach a comfortable literacy level. Frankford is the home base for the training, but the partners can meet anywhere in the county.

“I ask that everyone access their public library at some point,” Wacket said. “We all collectively offer — and see — ourselves, really, as their partner in education and innovation, in something as simple as learning to read, applying for a job, applying for scholarships … or researching genealogy. We’ve progressed beyond books.”

She thanked the Sussex County Department of Libraries and Delaware Division of Libraries. She also cited the library’s own board of directors for “thoughtful and progressive stewardship of this library. They’re one of the reasons I think we won this award.”

The award was presented during a joint state conference of Delaware and Maryland Library Association on May 6 in Ocean City, Md.

The library’s full programing schedule is online at www.frankford.lib.de.us.