Thursday, August 20, 2009

Early Childhood Resource Center at the Springfield City Library

I like to think of the library as my VERY LARGE storage closet. If you have a preschooler, you may want to adopt this idea too. Just think, you could look in and find something new every time! Sometimes closets are disorganized and require a search in order to find a specific item. This can especially be true for parents or caregivers of small children. And indeed it is expensive and requires a great amount of storage space to house the myriad of items that preschoolers would enjoy and benefit from. Springfield City Library to the rescue!

The Central Library, 220 State Street, Springfield, is the home of the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC), a collection of about 1000 items for borrowing by teachers, childcare providers, caregivers and parents throughout western Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (reconfigured in 2005) funds the Early Childhood Resource Center and supports preschool teachers and caregivers in their quest to educate young children, focusing on those needing quality childcare and early education. The ECRC collection is predominantly housed in the Children’s Room, next to our 7,000-volume picture book collection and blended with our popular Parent/Teacher Collection, which feature Parenting Kits covering subjects such as discipline, literacy and toilet training.

The ECRC, coordinated by Children’s Librarian Christin LaRocque, provides outreach to daycare centers and providers of early childhood care. Twice yearly the DEEC sponsors workshops for these groups, on topics such as read-alouds and literacy. The next workshop, planned for Wednesday, September 30th from 6-8 p.m., will concentrate on recognizing and supporting young children with Asperger syndrome. A quarterly ECRC newsletter is published; new items are added to the ECRC collection yearly.

The items can be previewed by searching our library catalog by type or subject, or you may instead choose to view a list of ALL of the materials, including books, at A photo accompanies the description of each item to help you determine if the item is what you’re looking for before putting it on hold and proceeding to the library to pick it up. Items include flashcards; games; themed math kits; science, reading, music or art kits; a doctor, nurse, fireman or bird puppet; and so much more. We have eight kinds of block sets and twelve kinds of puzzles, including dinosaur, farm, rainforest, sea life, a life-size tiger puzzle, and a 2x3 foot foam world map! Perhaps you’d like to try out one of the Science Kits on bugs or the magic or magnets. The Reading Kits include the child friendly Leap Pad, an interactive pad and sample book set to help introduce reading concepts. Children use the pen to hear and interact with the story as it is read aloud. Manipulatives, for little hands to practice fine motor skills, include a lacing card that is actually a wooden tree, and children lace the fox, squirrel, apples, butterflies, bird’s nest and leaves to the tree. We even have a 40-piece Cooking Set, containing “everything young chefs might need to whip up a meal! Includes pots, muffin pan, mixing bowls, spatulas, aprons, and much more!”

In another area of your virtual closet are larger or more unusual items such as a Sandbox Play Set which includes a large shovel and rake, five small shovels, a scoop, a small hand rake, three wooden sifters, a snail sand mold, and three stacking pots; a 72-piece sea shell collection; a floor standing two-sided artist’s easel; a colorful, lightweight 4 foot puppet theatre; and a small sand table, including a funnel, cups, scoops, sailboat and a sieve!

So now you also have a very large, very organized closet from which to select and borrow educational kits, equipment, puppets, puzzles, toys and more. Incidentally the only thing you need to be able to borrow these items is a library card!

Janet Stupak
Community Relations Coordinator
Springfield City Library
220 State Street
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 263-6828 ext. 422
Springfield City Library - A Place For You

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