Scripps Foundation grants La Jolla library youth department $25,000

By Ashley Mackin

The Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation, through its 2014 grant cycle, has decided to give the La Jolla Riford Library $25,000 to improve and expand its youth programs.

“The Scripps family, particularly through Miss Ellen Browning Scripps, has had a long legacy of supporting numerous local not- for-profit organizations, many of which bear her name. ... But one of her greatest passions, among many back then, was the library,” said Doug Dawson, executive director of the Scripps Foundation. Another passion for Miss Ellen, as Dawson refers to her, was children.

“She felt the citizens of La Jolla, especially the children, needed more of a public focus on books, libraries and literacy. So our preference and priority is to put Miss Ellen’s grant dollars into supporting children‘s programs — books, materials and initiatives — at the library.”

This year’s grant will fund six youth programs. New head librarian Shaun Briley said, “The Foundation’s most recent grant deepens our collection of materials and helps the library prepare early learners to read and teens to be college-ready. The Foundation has been a steadfast and exemplary partner.”

La Jolla Youth Services Librarian Bill Mallory added, “The Scripps grant has been responsible for a lot of positive change at the library and we are very grateful to the Scripps Foundation for their support.”

Previous grants helped library administrators purchase “early learning computers” for children, touchscreen computers with a large keyboard that introduces preschoolers to letters and numbers. “It’s a great way for kids to play and learn,” Mallory said, “And the kids gravitate toward those. They are almost always occupied.”

Because of the frequent usage, the Scripps grant funded two new early learning computers, with programs appropriate for grades 1-3. Dawson noted, “Usage has been off the charts, so we decided it was worth it to keep these computers state-of-the-art, dynamic and relevant for the preschoolers and lower elementary grades.”

To further support learn-by- playing activities, the grant also helped purchase educational toys for preschoolers that encourage the development of problem- solving skills and spatial awareness.

“In the fourth grade, one of the priorities is California History and social studies,” Dawson said. “So we engaged in providing some new materials that include the California Mission projects and the whole study of Native Americans of California and their huge impact on the history of this fine state.”

The library will also get additional material from the Teaching Company, which supplies CDs and DVDs to go with research books, so learners may see and hear information that accompanies what’s in the book.

Mallory said the library needed to expand its existing collection because it can’t keep the resources on hand.

“I had to put some on hold for myself just so I could put the ‘La Jolla Library Thanks the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation’ sticker on it!” he said. Dawson added, “The Scripps Family Foundation has invested in this partnership before in previous grant years and we’ve seen the return on the investment has been very positive, very well received by the children.”

For the teens using the new College Room — which is solely for AP books and college application resources — there will be college application software that helps with the process.

“(The installation of) the computer platform helps students who are in 10th and 11th grade — who are looking at colleges, preparing to visit colleges, and taking the SAT and ACT tests — through the whole college-application process,” Dawson said. High school guidance counselors use similar software.

The last thing the grant will fund, Dawson said, “goes back to basics,” and will replace copies of classic children’s literature. “Because they are used a lot, there is wear and tear, so periodically, we need to refresh them and renew those collections.”

Although the Scripps Foundation regularly supports the library, Dawson said this is “the largest grant we’ve received in recent history.”

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