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Aquidneck Island Libraries get Grants to Push Tech Frontiers

Children in Newport, Portsmouth and Middletown will get exposure to 21st digital literacy and workforce skills in an innovation lab and the Redwood Library will get a boost to digitize some of its collection.

Libraries across Aquidneck Island are sharing some of the more than $200,000 in recently-announced Library of Rhode Island grants that will help them continue to digitize and innovate.

The Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth Public Libraries, along with FabNewport, will collaborate to establish Innovation Studios in each library thanks to a $25,097 grant from the Office of Library and Information Services' LORI program.

In the program, children from 8 to 12 will "begin to learn 21st century digital literacy and workforce skills" in a summer camp planned for July of this year.

Staff in the libraries will be trained to continue to use the Innovation Studio for future programs. 

FabNewport is a nonprofit and operates a fab lab in Newport's North End. It's mission is to teach the community to use digital fabrication and technology to turn ideas into realities.

Over at the Redwood Library, $17,701 will be used to improve the library's digital access to its collection on materials covering the decorateive arts including furniture, arts, architecture and interior decoration.

"By creating new online electronic descriptions of these materials, from a library catalog that currently exists only on paper, the printed materials about decorative arts will be accessible to researchers worldwide," a release states. "As part of this process, the Library will improve its internal cataloging and collection management procedures. Visitors to the Library will be able to view an exhibition of specialized print resources about the decorative arts. The Redwood Library participates in the statewide LORI network of libraries."

The Office of Library and Information Services funds the Library of Rhode Island grant program with federal dollars that it receives from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act. The grant program was open to public, academic, and school libraries and library consortia which are members of the Library of Rhode Island network.

"Rhode Island has a long history of supporting public library services through its State Library Aid program," said Richard Licht, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration. "This additional grant program supports collaboration among all types of libraries and other community organizations."

"The Library of Rhode Island grant program enables the State of Rhode Island to support innovative projects and statewide initiatives that enable our libraries to advance library services for everyone," Karen Mellor, acting Chief of Library Services at the Office of Library and Information Services, said.

Other money goes to:

-Davisville Free Library in North Kingstown will provide story hours for pre-school children and their caregivers at Kingstown Crossings, a Crossroads RI family housing facility. Caregivers will be introduced to pre-literacy skills and librarians will help foster a passion for reading that is important for future success.

-The Rhode Island Family Literacy initiative at Providence Public Library will build a digital literacy curriculum to help adults with limited English proficiency learn computer skills at the Providence Public Library and the Cranston Public Library.

-The Central Falls Public Library will collaborate with the Central Falls School Department, VSA Arts RI, and the University of RI Harrington School of Communications and Media to design a media education lab and implement a summer camp for 8th grade students that teaches digital literacy and 21st century communication skills through video production.

-Providence Public Library will work with the Brown University Center for Public Humanities, Providence Preservation Society, the RI Historical Society and the Providence Youth Center to create a Teen Tech Squad. This project will engage Providence youth in the digital humanities, enabling them to explore and document neighborhood histories by creating electronic exhibits.

-HELIN, a the consortium of academic and health sciences libraries, will develop a statewide digital collection of information resources and cultural heritage artifacts that will become an online educational resource for all Rhode Islanders.

-RILINK, the consortium of school libraries, will replace its server, which will enable the consortium to serve more school libraries and improve the functionality of its library catalog.

-Archie R. Cole Middle School in East Greenwich, which will get funding for students to create book trailers, or short promotional videos, that connect fiction and non-fiction books.

"The project blends skills for reading with 21st century technology skills and goals identified in the Common Core Curriculum," a release states.

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