Children in Clatsop County who don’t live in an incorporated city but want to use a library will be able to obtain free library cards through next June, thanks to an extension of a grant received by the Seaside and Astoria public libraries.

For the first three years of the grant, the Astoria and Seaside libraries issued 700 cards and circulated a total of 21,000 items to children under age 18 who do not live within the boundaries of a city with a public library. Without the grants, the children would have had to pay a fee for a library card.

The grant extension is to continue to provide library services while seeking ways to provide year-round library access to all children under the age of 18 in Clatsop County.

The grant is through the Oregon Library Services & Technology Act Program and administered by the federal Institute of Museum and Libraries. Originally, the grant was supposed to have run from 2010 to 2013.

The work by Seaside Library Director Esther Moberg and Astoria Library Director Jane Tucker to provide library services to all children in the county was cited as “innovative” during a recent visit by representatives from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

For many children in Clatsop County who do not live in Cannon Beach, Seaside, Warrenton or Astoria, the only library they have access to is their school library during the school year.

The grant also includes ongoing summer library programs and services that have been provided in collaboration with the local schools. Seaside and Astoria libraries hope to provide ongoing and sustainable services beyond 2014. Their primary focus is on early literacy and reaching children with reading and exposure to books from birth to 5 years of age.

Recent studies have shown that children who struggle in reading often have difficulty with remedial reading programs and are typically fixed in their reading patterns by the third grade.

Future plans include creating a foundation that will build sustainable ongoing services and access for all children in Clatsop County. Both libraries intend to partner with and assist local schools and homeschoolers. Current sponsors and partners include the Friends of the Seaside Library, Friends of the Astoria Library, Costco, Lum’s, Fred Meyer and Subway.

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