The last time the Front Porch Library reached out to the wider community, it was to ask for help finding an insurer to keep their doors open.
Tallahassee came through with suggestions, offers of help, and ultimately an insurance policy.
Now there is good news to share. The Front Porch Library is a finalist for a 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The award – given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its partner agencies — recognizes top arts and humanities-based programs which operate afterschool and out-of-school.
The Front Porch Library is one of 50 programs to achieve Certificate of Excellence status from hundreds of nominations from across the country. If chosen in the top ten, the library will receive $10,000 and an invitation to Washington, DC for the award conference in August.
Today the Front Porch Library continues to thrive as a book-and-project gathering spot for the children of Seminole Manor Neighborhood. Co-founded by neighbors Adrian Fogelin and Dr. Kary Kublin, the initial vision was to give ready access to books and educational materials to youth in this low income neighborhood.
“The library began with my father’s house, and kids who needed books,” says Adrian Fogelin. Not wanting to give up his house when her father died, she decided to establish a library on the porch—a library which quickly took over the whole house.
The collection now numbers over 3,000 cataloged books, all donated. But the library is more than just books. Every Sunday, a volunteer staff gathers to run programs that bring the wider world to kids who arrive on foot and by bicycle. Library volunteers come from the neighborhood and the community. Many are students from SAIL High School and Leon High’s Key Club. These high-achieving teen volunteers act as mentors and role models.
As the library gets ready to celebrate its sixth birthday, there are many past programs and shared memories to draw on: building a Rube Goldberg machine, jousting on the lawn with the Society for Creative Anachronism, quilting, cooking, studying Greek mythology, learning about modern China, conducting explosive science experiments and funding summer camp experiences from one generous donation.
“We’ve seen a lot of kids come to the library, growing up right before our eyes Sunday to Sunday,” says Co-Director Kary Kublin. “If we want kids to read, we’ve got to read with them. If we want them to ask questions and solve problems, we have to make sure the opportunities are there and that they are accessible.”
The Front Porch Library is proof that it takes a village. With this national recognition, the village continues to grow.
More information about The Front Porch Library as well as weekly updates and photographs can be found at http://thefrontporchlibrary.com.