On Saturday, February 1, the West Baton Rouge Parish Library kicked off their Lego® Club, holding the first meeting of the year.
Though the first meeting of the year’s attendance wasn’t as high as they’d hoped for, WBRP Library Youth Services/Outreach Librarian Judy Boyce said that registration records, as well as the club’s history, suggests it will be just as successful as it has in recent years.
“It has been a very successful program. We’ve had lots and lots of families of all ages from the little ones, 2- and 3-year-olds, on up to high school freshman, and adults too; they seem to get into as well and enjoy getting into it,” Boyce said Monday afternoon. “People just love building with Legos. It’s something that’s been popular a long time.”
Boyce said that the WBR Parish Library started their Lego® Club in 2011 after receiving a donation of Lego® blocks. Shortly thereafter, the library was awarded a Dow Community grant, enabling them to purchase more Lego® blocks as well as Lego® robots for their summer robot building sessions.
The library received even more of the beloved blocks from a national competition in 2012 which was sponsored by the American Library Association in association with Lego®. The WBR Library acquired the 13th highest amount of online votes among the nation, garnering them a bounty of Lego® pieces.
“We have been doing Legos, really, since 2011,” said Boyce. “We’ve built up quite a collection.”
Boyce said that the library decided to begin their Lego® Club after researching all of the benefits the building blocks had to child development.
“The research literature confirms the developmental benefits of Lego® play and robot building and programming - there are quite a few,” Boyce said, listing several benefits including improved hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, increased attention span, increased memory, literacy development and more. “It’s also a foundation for logical thinking and mathematics and scientific reasoning.”
Boyce said that the club, which was the first of its kind in the area, is offered free of charge at the library, once a month – on the first Saturday of each month.
“We give the children of the families a little membership card, it’s a free club,” said Boyce. “We just have people register – they can do it through our webpage, or we have applications here in the library.”
Boyce added that participants show tons of creativity, something the library fully encourages.
Beth Vandersteen, WBRP Library Director, said that the library offers many opportunities for people of all ages – not only for creativity, but for advancement and overall success.
“I’m one of those people who passionately believe that libraries really do change lives,” Vandersteen said. “If you know how to read, you can use a good public library, you can learn anything else you need to know. It’s here – all you have to do is come in and use it.”
Vandersteen said that along with programs for children that take place throughout the year, especially during the summer, the library holds classes for adults to learn basic and more advanced computer skills.
“Every Wednesday, we still have a basic computer skills class,” she said. “If you need to know how to use a mouse, how to get on the Internet, how to get an email address and use email – real basic stuff – that happens every week.”
She said that the library also offers more advanced computer classes, CBT Nuggets, which are done by streaming video over the Internet.
Vandersteen also said that the WBRP Library recently acquired an accessibility workstation as part of a federal grant from the state library.
“It’s for people who have physical challenges that might not be able to use regular keyboard or see a regular-sized monitor,” she explained. “It has a print-to-speech compatibility. It’s huge for someone who is blind or partially-sighted.”
Vandersteen said that anyone can achieve success, and she believes the library is a resource to help with people’s successes.
“The importance of a public library in a community is extraordinary,” she said, commenting on a puppet show that recently took place in the library for pre-kindergarten aged children. “The things that we have for kids here will get them prepared to be successful in kindergarten to build their confidence… We’re here for everyone - for education, for re-education, for employment searching – those resources are here.”