A local library outreach group needs help starting an endowment covering library cards for kids outside Astoria, Warrenton and Seaside.

Former Astoria and Seaside library directors Jane Tucker and Reita Fackerell formed a partnership in 2009 with school districts to ensure every child in Clatsop County had access to books. Their efforts focused on kids in unincorporated inland areas, away from the three public libraries on the northwestern edge.

The Libraries Reading Outreach in Clatsop County, formed in 2015 out of the partnership, now provides library cards to around 1,300 kids out of an estimated 2,900 living in unincorporated areas.

The group relies on donations, but has an opportunity to create the Francine Reingold & Val Winstanley Endowment under the Oregon Community Foundation, named for a late reading teacher and the wife of the Seaside city manager.

The group needs $25,000 to create an investment account under the foundation, which would manage the funds and guarantees an investment return between 3% and 5%. The group has raised $16,000. An anonymous donor promised to match up to $5,000 in additional donations. The hope is to raise the money by August.

Library workers often found parents telling kids they couldn’t afford a library card, said Esther Moberg, director of the Seaside Public Library and a member of the outreach group. Cards for noncity residents can cost $10 a year at the Warrenton Community Library, $50 at the Seaside Public Library and $60 at the Astoria Library.

“We think it shouldn’t be a privilege for a kid to have a library card and access to books,” she said. “Because in the rural areas, like Knappa and Jewell, they’re only checking out one or two books a week from their school. And if those are the only books they’re getting, that’s simply not enough to build vocabulary and reading. From our library, they can check out 50 books at a time.”

The library card also provides access to e-books and catalogs for online ordering. Seaside and Warrenton share online catalogs, with the hopes of adding Astoria.

Buying kids library cards is part of an effort to reduce the vocabulary gap between kids who are and aren’t read to at home, said Jimmy Pearson, the director of the Astoria Library. He and Moberg agreed that parents should start reading during pregnancy and throughout childhood.

“Have a book around, laying around or whatever,” Pearson said. “If they have a book to read, and they can grab it and look at it, anything. Anything that builds literacy, it builds success.”

The library outreach group launches a GoFundMe page June 15 through its social media accounts. Reach Break Brewing in Astoria will hold a fundraiser for the group July 11.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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