Harkening back to a Depression-era New Deal program that provided library books on horseback to people in rural areas of eastern Kentucky, a new service piloted this fall by the Glendale Branch of The Indianapolis Public Library will offer reading adventures to Washington Township school children in a unique way.
The Pack Horse Librarian Project was developed by Glendale Branch librarian Tracy Hilton and selected as part of the Library system project competition, "Imagine It," presented by The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation and sponsored by Minde Browning Professional Development Fund of The Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund. It will involve mounted patrol officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department who will volunteer to travel on horseback to schools where they will engage young ones by reading stories and join Library staff to illustrate the history of the pack horse librarian that brought books to children in isolated areas.
"Imagine a mounted police officer riding up to a school baseball field and popping out from a saddle bag a favorite children's book and reading to awestruck young ones," stated Hilton, whose project funding of $1,500 comes from ticket sales to the competition event during which ticket holders voted on the winning project. "This project will demonstrate new methods not only to reach children but to harness community volunteer expertise."
In addition to the efforts of the mounted patrol volunteers, school visits will be attended by Glendale Branch staff who will hand out free Library cards and provide other key Library usage information. Four schools are targeted to receive visits in the Glendale area during both the fall and spring semesters of the upcoming school year.
The project, which subsequently could be replicated by IndyPL branches for their own neighborhoods, addresses the Library's key strategic goals of promoting reading and being a leader in providing early learning experiences for young children.