Library Literacy Liaisons

Appalachian Library Literacy Liaisons, from left, Allison Margerison, Marri Buchanan, Candy Abney, Lisa Flanigan and Leena Stark.

National Library Week is the perfect time to recognize how diligently the Appalachian Regional Library has been working on various outreach partnerships, including a three-year partnership with area kindergarten and pre-K classes. The regional library system received IMLS/LSTA funding in support of a grant called, “Alphabet Ready.”

Through the Alphabet Ready grant, ARL has slowly been expanding outreach until this 2019-2020 school year when they were able to offer weekly alphabet focused story times in every kindergarten and pre-K class in Ashe and Watauga counties, as well as field trips to the public library for all kindergarten students!

“Research has repeatedly proven that two skills in particular serve as the best predictors of early reading success. Those two skills are alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness,” according to National Reading Panel, 2000). Spurred by this type of research, the ARL was inspired to develop lively, specialized story times that would highlight those skills through movement, song, flannel board activities, puppets, manipulatives, and books with rich vocabulary focusing on the “Letter of the Day” in ways that would address multiple learning styles.

One of the goals of the Alphabet Ready grant was to partner with teachers in support of the excellent work they are already doing, while at the same time creating a venue to promote the valuable services of the library.

The ARL is very appreciative of the trust put forth by the school system to partner with the library on this endeavor. This has been a unique experience for both the library and the schools, and has garnered state and national attention from the funders.

Additionally, in response to the closure of NC public schools on March 16, due to concerns around the coronavirus, the Appalachian Regional library transitioned from “in person” story times to “Online Story Times” which can be accessed via the Appalachian Regional Library YouTube channel.

Running concurrently with the school partnerships, the Alphabet Ready grant also reached out to area child development centers in Watauga County. The ARLE (Appalachian Reading and Early Learning) Preschool Outreach was created to serve this section of our community and included monthly “Alphabet Ready” story times provided by volunteers.

If you have questions about the grant, please contact Lisa Flanigan at

“Alphabet Ready was made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the NC Department of Cultural Resources. IMLS grant #LS-00-19-0034-19.”

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Tom Mayer is the executive editor of Mountain Times Publications, a group of five news newspapers, six websites and one monthly periodical in the High Country of North Carolina.

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