Please enjoy this guest blog by Jeff Collins, Library Director:
Even now, after her passing last summer at age 85, beloved children’s librarian Rochelle A. Murray is helping Davenport kids fall in love with reading.
“Miss Rochelle,” as she was known to generations of children, bequeathed to the Library a generous gift, which will help kids discover the fun of reading for many years to come.
Rochelle was a longtime children’s librarian, and although she had long since retired by the time I began my tenure as director, I have seen her touch throughout the Library and in the community. Now, her legacy will be indelibly marked, as Davenport Public Library embarks on an audacious $1.08 million-dollar private-donor funded project to bring vibrant new activities to the children’s areas at all three of our libraries: | Main | Fairmount | Eastern.
Davenport Public Library will add interactives, kiosks, wall panels, and more to our children’s areas in the coming year, helping kids to develop the early literacy skills so vital to their success in school and life. These vivid new spaces will allow children to engage in fun, multi-sensory activities that support early literacy and include letters and words, gears, magnetic pieces, song lyrics, varying textures, and other elements that are perfect for hands-on play. And of course, we will incorporate plenty of cozy nooks where children and their parents/caregivers can read books together!
Educational Learning Spaces
These enhanced spaces are educational and based on Every Child Ready to Read®, a research-based series of practices developed by the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children. Designed to help kids develop essential literacy skills and get on the right path to school readiness and student success, this program is based on two core concepts: 1) Reading begins at birth; and 2) Parents are a child’s first and best teacher. Every Child Ready to Read® focuses on emergent and early literacy development in the five practices of talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. Public libraries provide opportunities for young children and their parents/caregivers to develop these skills in safe, non-commercial environments, with free access for everyone in the community. Davenport Public Library already utilizes Every Child Ready to Read® practices in our early literacy programming, including storytimes, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, parent education workshops, and supporting materials to help parents/caregivers prepare children for reading.
Access to these free, educational spots, gives everyone living in Davenport a strong start in early literacy to ensure that they are ready for kindergarten and beyond. Each newly designed children’s area will reflect the theme of nature, with each library branch featuring aspects of its local ecosystem:
| Main will feature a water/riparian habitat due to its proximity to the Mississippi River.
| Fairmount will feature woodlands/wetlands due to the Duck Creek watershed.
| Eastern will feature a prairie theme as it is situated at Prairie Heights Park.
Help us reach our goal!
So, while we are deeply saddened by the loss of Rochelle Murray, it is with enormous gratitude that we honor her legacy by embarking on this mission to bring opportunities to play and learn at the Library.
We welcome the participation of all citizens in this campaign. As of March 31, 2023, this project is 58% funded, but we still need $450,000 to bring it to success. Gifts of all sizes are welcome. Anyone interested in making a gift can do so online, or gifts can be mailed to FRIENDS of the Davenport Public Library (321 Main Street, Davenport, IA 52801). Please designate your gift as for “Children’s Areas”. Donations of $5,000 or more will receive mention on a plaque at each library.
We need everyone in our community to help. Please join us in making early literacy a reality for Davenport children!
Thank you to our major donors!
(accurate as of March 31, 2023):
$200,000 and more
Rochelle A. Murray Bequest
FRIENDS of the Davenport Public Library
$150,000 and more
Regional Development Authority
$5,000 and more
You can learn more about Rochelle’s life at Primary Selections from Special Collections and her obituary.