Grant helps library reach Spanish-speaking residents

Katie Fountain

I am proud to announce that the Robeson County Public Library has been awarded a $50,000 Literacy and Lifelong Learning grant through the Library Services and Technology Act. The grant will be used to expand the library’s services and resources to the Hispanic population in our county.

Through local partnerships, the library will offer 12 bilingual programs and create informative displays. Three bilingual AWE Early Literacy stations will be installed and approximately 2,400 bilingual and Spanish materials will be added to local collections, with emphasis on family and parenting skills, health and wellness, and literacy.

Kelly Mecifi, technical services librarian, and I planned the grant project last fall after identifying a growing need for additional library outreach to our Hispanic community. With nearly 11,000 Hispanic people currently living in Robeson County, there were fewer than 200 Spanish or bilingual books in our seven-library system.

It was understandable why the Hispanic patrons were unsatisfied with their public library, as the library staff has also experienced frustration with our lack of bilingual materials.

While the library offers a range of educational programs for all ages, none of them are offered in Spanish. This grant is designed to reduce the barriers to library services for our Hispanic population.

The intended outcomes of the project include improving the patron’s ability to apply information that furthers their personal or family health and wellness; increasing their parenting and family skills; and improving their general knowledge and skills.

Those goals support the library’s mission statement, which is, “To encourage the love of reading, provide access to reliable information, support the pursuit of knowledge, promote lifelong learning for all citizens of Robeson County and contribute to the economic vitality of the county itself.”

We are fortunate to have two community partnerships with Robeson County Partnership for Children and Southeastern Health. Jessica Lowery, Tim Little, Lekisha Hammonds and Phillip Richardson are teaming up with library staff to offer bilingual parenting, literacy and health programs. A calendar of events will be available soon.

I would like to acknowledge the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library for contributing $5,000 in matching grant funds for us to be eligible for the grant.

Excitement is building among the library staff and partners and we are looking forward to bringing new services and resources to our Hispanic community. Marketing and additional grant updates will be available later this month. The library’s website and Facebook page will feature grant information. Please visit the website at

This grant is made possible through funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Library of North Carolina, a division of the state Department of Cultural Resources.

Katie Fountain Fountain

Katie Fountain is the director of the Robeson County Public Library.

Katie Fountain is the director of the Robeson County Public Library.

comments powered by Disqus