Jamesburg Library opens educational nature project


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JAMESBURG – The Jamesburg Garden Club is launching the Jamesburg Public Library Bookworms project to educate children about planting seedlings and following them through to pollination.

The Bookworms is a collaboration with Library Director Cortney Frank and Jamesburg Garden Club member Linda Newton, according to the club’s co-founder and president, Shannon Spillane.

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“The Bookworms is essentially a celebration of spring. … I wanted to engage the kids in a hands-on, creative way and possibly showcase the Jamesburg Public Library in a new light,” Frank said.

The program will be held from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday from April 28 through June 9 at the library, 229 Gatzmer Ave.

“We will be planting seedlings and watching them grow week by week, transplanting different kinds of houseplants to show how root systems can differ. There will be a visit from a local beekeeper who will talk about the importance of bees and pollination,” Frank said. “We will also have a visit from some friendly chickens of varying ages. Time permitting, we may also be doing some crafts like making seed bombs and ice cream cone bird-feeders. All this is in addition to a traditional storytime.”

Frank, who has been the library director since March 2015, said, “As a novice gardener myself, the concept for this program seemed very natural and practical to me. Gardening is a skill that must be learned and is typically handed down through generations. We can foster that kind of community at [the library]. If this is successful, I hope to grow it into something more robust next year.”

Spillane said the Bookworms complements a program the Jamesburg Garden Club is working on with kindergarten pupils at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

“Every year the club undertakes a project. Usually it is a planting or renovation. This year, I wished to get kids outdoors, off-line and interacting with each other. Gardening and planting is one way to introduce science, interpersonal interaction and cut back on screen time while having fun,” Spillane said.

“The library offers so many fun and interesting programs for children. Now seemed [like] a great time to add an interactive, non-computer based activity. Most of the garden club members are former teachers and are grandparents, so it seemed a perfect fit,” Spillane said.

About 10 children signed up for the program at the library and registration is still open, Frank said, adding that “a successful, thriving library can’t exist without community. Building those relationships has been my primary focus.”

Frank said recent meetings at the library have brought together members of the PTA, school administrators, members of the garden club and Senior Center, the Friends of the Jamesburg Public Library and the Jamesburg Historical Association.

“We all share a common mission to provide a community service to the people of Jamesburg and our efforts will all be stronger if we work together. I have seen a huge benefit as a result of this partnership,” Frank said. “Our programs have had higher attendance and our fundraisers have been more successful. We are seeing more people walk through the door each day and our circulation has grown.”

Spillane said she hopes the children will learn “… where the fruits and vegetables they eat come from [and] possibly encourage kids to get outside, get some dirt on their hands and have fun outdoors. Mainly my focus is to encourage more involvement in (science, technology, engineering and math), which is my background. What better way than to see the science that is all around you.”

For more information, visit www.jamesburglibrary.org/friends/library-bookworms/ or call 732-521-0440.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

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