Read Rover is a bookmobile specializing in early childhood literacy as part of the Youth and Family Engagement Department’s Mobile Engagement Group. Read Rover supports Baltimore County Public Library's mission to foster a lifelong love of learning in children. The vehicle exclusively visits underserved communities where residents may have mobility or transportation issues, reaching children who have often never set foot in a library before.
Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library fully funded the purchase of Read Rover.
During the months of October-May, Read Rover makes monthly visits to licensed day care providers that serve children who have socioeconomic barriers. The children and teachers board the truck for a short program. The story time programs incorporate pre-reading skills that prepare the children for entering school. The teachers are able to get support for their instruction by requesting a teachers collection that Read Rover delivers to them on their monthly visits.
During the summer, Read Rover visits communities that have children and families who have barriers to access to traditional library services. Staff provides materials and activities to support out-of-school-time learning and gaps for summer reading. Youth and Family Engagement mobile vehicles are stocked with a variety of materials for children and teens. In 2018, there were seven community stops. In 2019, that was expanded to 15 community stops.
Rosedale Branch Teen Space
Thanks to a generous $25,000 grant from Rosedale Federal Savings & Loan Association, a new teen space was created at the Rosedale Branch. Rosedale Federal partnered with the Foundation to identify a need in the library that would benefit the community. The space was outfitted with two wall-mounted flat-screen televisions, two PlayStation 4 gaming consoles, Oculus Rift S virtual reality headset, PS4 VR headset, gaming chairs, study tables, a larger table for board or card games and a branded partition that defines the new area.
Free Tax Preparation Service
The Foundation, along with community partners PNC and Wells Fargo, funded a free income tax preparation site inside the Randallstown Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. The site was run by the CASH Campaign of MD, which is an organization that promotes economic advancement for low-to-moderate income individuals and families in Baltimore and across Maryland. The site operated from mid-January through April, 2019. Applicants were required to have an individual or family income of less than $55,000 annually to qualify. Preparers assisted with eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which comprise some of the largest anti-poverty measures in the United States. By providing this service, applicants retained their entire refund and realized an overall supplement to their annual earnings, rather than losing an estimated 25-50% of it to fees for commercial preparation and high-cost “refund anticipation checks.”
Hereford Branch FutureMakers Program
The Foundation awarded a grant to the Hereford Branch to offer a series of FutureMakers Digital Fabrication Workshops for children ages 8 to 16. The workshops offered STEM-related learning through fun, accessible programs such as 3D Printing and Sticker Labs, where children used software like TinkerCAD, SketchUp and Inkscape to create 3D models and graphic designs.