Some of the 4,500 new books that line the shelves in the new Tatnuck Magnet School branch library. (Megan Bard I MassLive.com)
By Megan Bard, MassLive.com
The books have been shelved and last-minute projects are being completed just in time for the unveiling of the new Worcester Public Library branch at the Tatnuck Magnet School.
This afternoon at 3:30, the One City, One Library campaign will host a ribbon cutting and open house at the new Pleasant Street branch. Soon after, residents, students and teachers will be able to get their hands on the more than 4,500 new books that line the stacks and start using the new computers, early literacy stations, iPads, e-readers, and other digital media that have been purchased through monetary and in-kind donations for the project.
The Tatnuck branch is the second of four city public library branches that are scheduled to open over the next few months as part an effort by the Worcester Public Library Foundation and the Worcester Public Schools to improve child literacy rates by providing access to grade-level materials. According to information provided by the One City, One Library group, 59 percent of Worcester public school students cannot read proficiently by third grade.
This “means they are at significant risk of dropping out of school or not completing high school,” according to One City, One Library.
“We hope to see a measurable outcome. We want to see proficiency levels increase, students’ performance improve, and in five years to look back and see that this made a difference,” Christina Andreoli, executive director of the Worcester Public Library Foundation, said on Friday.
The pilot program calls for opening branches in the Goddard Science and Technology and Burncoat Preparatory schools, in addition to the branch in the Roosevelt Elementary School, which opened in October, and Tatnuck.
The four schools selected for the five-year pilot program were identified based on several factors, including reading proficiency levels, location in the city, socioeconomics, and how feasible it is to renovate a portion of the school to accommodate the branch, according to Andreoli. A library bookmobile will make routine trips to the remaining 30 city elementary schools.
Library foundation members credit the community at large for making the pilot program possible. Although the foundation led the construction and the $2 million fund-raising effort, it took hours of dedication by volunteers to set the plan in motion. Thus far, roughly $1.2 million has been raised for the four pilot branches and the library bookmobile.
Last week, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation pledged $35,000 to the Tatnuck branch in the first year, with the potential for two additional years of funding, according to a news release.
“We are honored to lead the One City, One Library effort and to help in the movement to bring back library services to our neighborhoods,” Worcester Public Library Foundation Chairman Robert W. Sorrenti said in a news release.
In addition to the Harvard Pilgrim donation, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the city of Worcester have also offered funding for the project.
Cardinal Construction, Inc. provided pro bono services and acted as the project manager, and in-kind services were provided by the following organizations: Coghlin Electrical Contractors, Inc., Knight Security, Inc., Nal’s Paint Center, Fine Painting, Sunshine Signs, Rotmans, College of the Holy Cross, Hanover Insurance Group, and United Way.