Submitted by Council President Kathy Lantry
For those of you who haven’t been over to the Sun Ray Library in a while, I am happy to report that the renovation project is well underway and the neighborhood is looking forward to the grand opening celebration in October. The library has always been a great resource for the neighborhood, but this new space will offer many other opportunities for learning beyond the wonderful collection of books and DVDs that have been available in the past.
One of these wonderful opportunities is a new community engagement program launched by the Children and Nature Network in partnership with the Saint Paul Public Library and the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation. The Sun Ray Green Library Project will connect natural elements throughout the indoor and outdoor areas of the library that promote reading and English language learning through experiential learning activities.
The project will also engage the Sun Ray community in creating green spaces at the library and the adjacent Conway Park. An outdoor reading garden, wild-life friendly plantings, rain gardens, and dozens of newly planted trees will provide improved connections between the library and the park while encouraging outdoor play and learning for children.
Youth and young adults from the community will be trained as “Natural Leaders” and will provide Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) events at the library that engage families in hands-on environmental learning and literacy activities. The library will make available nature backpacks, kits that families can check out to do their own outdoor exploration. There also will be training and resources for library staff and community volunteers to keep these programs going for many years to come.
Since its founding in 2006, the Children and Nature Network has been advocating for children, families, and communities to enhance health and well-being through direct experiences in nature. They provide a wide range of research and user-friendly tools, including those to enhance positive family bonding and access to fun, friendly nature-based activities. Funding for the Sun Ray Green Library Project has been provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program.
I am excited to welcome this program to the neighborhood and look forward to seeing everyone at the newly renovated Sun Ray Library in October.