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Cochrane Public Library offering new literacy and STEAM bags

“Patrons should come in and see what else we have to offer. We have telescopes, microscopes, cricket machines, board games. There's so much to discover here at the library.”
20210723 Library Literacy Bags JL 0018
Librarian and assistant director of the Cochrane Public Library Andrea Johnston holds new STEAM bags available at the library. (Jessica Lee/The Cochrane Eagle)

COCHRANE— In partnership with Inter Pipeline, the Cochrane Public Library now has ten literacy and STEAM bags chock-full of books, learning tools and other surprises available for check out.

The bags were inspired by the program Every Child Ready to Read, which head librarian and assistant director of the Cochrane Public Library Andrea Johnston said focuses on five key aspects of early literacy— Reading, writing, playing, talking and singing.

“This is really like the bread and butter of libraries, is building those early literacy skills,” Johnston said. “Literacy follows us throughout our entire lives ... You need to read to get your driver's license. You need to know how to read to apply for your first job, and to apply to university.”

The library hosts several events to support literacy in youth, including a story time program, Maker Mondays and Riddles and Trivia Tuesdays.

Johnston hopes the tools offered in each bag will encourage youth to build on what they do at the library at home on their own and with their parents.

“Everything you need is in the bag, it’s kind of like a one stop shop,” she said.

Of the 10 bags, five are for literacy and five have a STEAM, science, technology, engineering, art and math, focus.

The literacy bags all have a different theme and include a pamphlet with information about the library’s activities and programs, some of their “top pick children’s books,” lyric sheets, flash cards and a puppet among many other fun discoveries.

With the STEAM bags, each of the five focuses on a different letter.

“Each bag will have a couple books on that topic,” Johnston said. “And then we have materials that the kids can actually use to do some of those activities— So, for the math one we have a cash register so they can practice counting, multiplication bingo, and then some fun math books.”

The bags are aimed at children but anyone is welcome to check one out as long as they possess a library card.

Johnston spearheaded the project, applying for a grant last fall, which was ultimately successful after it was picked up and sponsored by Inter Pipeline who have worked with the library on other projects in the past.

The bags are just one aspect of their “Library of Things,” Johnston said.

“Patrons should come in and see what else we have to offer. We have telescopes, microscopes, cricket machines, board games. There's so much to discover here at the library.”