Monday found us waiting for Allison Potter in the parking lot of the Middlesbrough Football Club Riverside Stadium - not a typical venue for either of us. Turns out that Allison’s organization, Middlesbrough Reading Campaign, is pretty serious about community partners and so is the Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation. After a peek into the on site container where all of the book donations are stored, we met Diane O’Connell for a full tour of the facility. We were overwhelmed with both the hospitality and the variety of education and literacy activities available to this community through this partnership. A game day provides family attendees with literacy supported entertainment for their children in the rear concourse and even includes a sensory room for children who find sitting in the stands overwhelming. The community outreach that this team provides is amazing.
Next, we headed to Newham Bridge Primary School to meet with deputy head teacher Helen Ede about community engagement efforts there, then learned more about the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign from Allison, including their outreach to the neonatal units in local hospitals. Giving a book and permission to read it with an at risk baby has provided memories for families no matter the outcome of their medical care.
From what we can see, the literacy hub in Middlesbrough serves as a catalyst between families and greater community and we like the look of that. As Helen Ede said, “Schools can’t work any harder.” Schools are central for children, but there is lot for our library and its staff in Potsdam to do to help with literacy for a whole life.
--Sarah Sachs, Public Service Manager