In the 131-year history of the Winter Park Public Library, 2016 certainly has been a year like no other in almost every way. As one of Winter Park’s leading educational institutions, this year was a time of adaptation and looking forward. Our team of librarians and educators worked to shift the learning opportunities we offer to best match the ever-changing needs of our community and to position ourselves for maximum adaptability to whatever the future may bring.
When we paused to take stock of the WPPL’s educational achievements this year, we knew we had been busy, but even we were surprised at the breadth and depth of what we accomplished. Here is our 2016 Education Wrap-up.
New involvement in the D.I.Y./maker movement
The do-it-yourself (DIY)/maker movement is based on the desire to learn skills that, a generation ago, were taught in high schools via trade, shop, home economics and art classes. This year we launched a new “Make & Take” series for adults, providing opportunities to learn crafting, simple fabrication and decor and other skills. Last year we opened our Genius Lab, a mini-makerspace, offering video and audio production capabilities, 3D printing, and graphic design hardware and software. This year we stepped up our game by providing hands-on instruction classes in 3D printing, PhotoShop, video conversion and more.
STEM meets STEAM
Not only is the Library supporting efforts in science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.) education, but we have added arts education to the mix to make S.T.E.A.M. We launched “Full STEAM Ahead,” an opportunity for children ages 3 to 6 to learn basic principles of chemistry, earth science, physics and biology through age-appropriate, hands-on activities, books and stories. We also started Wonder League Robots for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade who want to learn robotics, coding and programming. This past summer, our tweens attended classes on how to digitally model and design for 3D printing and they competed in a 3D printing contest to test their new skills and encourage innovation.
Young filmmakers strut their stuff
This year we teamed up with our friends at Enzian Theater to expand our successful Reel Short Teen Film Festival. Dozens of teens from all over Central Florida entered short films and the best of them were shown on the Enzian’s big screen. The young filmmakers received constructive feedback and encouragement in their craft.
We support our City in its efforts to be a premier healthy community. This year we started providing digital fitness trackers such as FitBits and Jawbones for checkout so people can try devices before they buy. We also partnered with Winter Park YMCA and the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland to provide trial memberships to those who wanted to take the trackers for a spin. And in recognition that sometimes the best learning comes from a good example, we joined the local Breathe Free initiative and banned smoking from Library property.
New outreach initiatives
What we provide in our building is crucial to how we serve our residents but in 2016, we worked to also take library services out into the community. Our new Book Bike allows a librarian to ride to community events and organizations, register people for library cards and check out materials on the spot. To serve young people whose parents might not be able to bring them to the library, our Children’s Librarian has started presenting S.T.E.A.M. programs to children at the Winter Park. Community Center. And to reach young professionals who don’t typically frequent the library, we held a young professionals event at Cask & Larder attended by almost 100 people, 25 of whom left with brand new library cards.
Engaging with authors
We know our patrons love opportunities to interact with authors. This year we partnered with Writer’s Block Bookstore to bring top New York Times bestselling authors Brad Meltzer and Meg Cabot to the WPPL as well as to host Authors in the Park, a day-long book festival keynoted by author and screenwriter Geoff Rodkey.
The new library building
Last, but certainly not least, library staff, trustees and volunteers worked tirelessly to advocate for a new library facility that will allow us to bring cutting-edge materials, services and educational experiences to our residents. The new building will be designed for connection, interaction, exploration and technology, all hallmarks of 21st century learning. The location adjacent to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park will allow indoor and outdoor educational experiences, and the enhanced facilities will expand opportunities for partnerships with local daycares, schools, colleges and organizations.
As we look forward to 2017, we celebrate these successes and look forward to topping them all in the new year.
December 15, 2016