West Liberty Library receives inaugural Peggy Barber grant

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–The largest professional organization dedicated to libraries, the American Library Association offers a variety of prestigious grants to support libraries across the country. To assist smaller libraries with correspondingly small budgets, they developed the Peggy Barber Tribute Grant and presented it to three libraries for the first time this year. The West Liberty Public Library received one of these inaugural grants and looks forward to expanding their programming this summer as they transition to offering both in person and virtual activities.

For over a year, the West Liberty Public Library has focused on online programming, allowing them to keep patrons and staff members safe as the COVID-19 pandemic made its presence felt. In particular, the library focused on providing children’s programming, providing online story times, kids craft tutorials, and special interactive workshops.

These events proved very successful, and many patrons started asking if the library could expand to add more options for adults as well. Using the $2,500 the library received from their Peggy Barber grant, the library plans to do just that, creating a series of new adult activities, with both in person and at home offerings, over the next six months.

In June, the library invites adults interested in their summer reading program to come to the library to pick up take and make book spine bookmark kits from the library, located at 400 North Spencer Street, West Liberty. Using the directions and supplies included in the kits, crafty grownups can turn the spines of worn out and damaged books into attractive and functional bookmarks. Adults can also take the time to pick up reading log bookmarks from the library to join the summer reading program. Each adult who reads and records at least six books before July 31 can enter to win a grand prize.

For those who enjoy spending time in the garden, the library will hold an outdoor plant swap the afternoon of June 13. People with garden plants they would like to exchange with others can bring their cuttings to the swap and will receive a ticket for each one. They can then select as many new plants as they have tickets, brightening up their yards while helping other gardeners find a good home for plants they do not have space for.

In July, aspiring artists can learn about plein-air or outdoor painting July 18 ahead of the West Liberty Area Art Council’s annual plein-air painting contest. 10 interested painters can register for the library’s free class, which will include all the supplies they need to make their own plein-air painting under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Participants will need to preregister by calling the library at 319-627-2084 or emailing [email protected]

As West Liberty Public Library Director Allie Paarsmith begins preparation for these and other upcoming adult programs, she looks forward to seeing how the Peggy Barber grant will help bring the community together after so many months apart. “I feel very lucky–we do what we can with what we have, and this lets the library breathe a little bit and offer more programming than we usually do.”