Amy Randazzo joined the Ferguson Municipal Public Library as Children's Programming Librarian in March.
Amidst the turmoil that gripped Ferguson this past year, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library quickly took on the role of a "safe haven," as it was described by the Library Journal when it was awarded the 2015 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year. It provided a place for students and teachers to meet when school schedules were interrupted. It served as a beacon of peace and hope at a time when both were in short supply. And for a nation that felt powerless to help, it became a way to lend support: By making contributions and donations to a local library that was providing direct assistance to a community in need.
Among the many changes made possible by the donations received by the library this past year is the hiring of Children’s Services and Programming Librarian Amy Randazzo. Randazzo joined the library in March and hit the ground running, working closely with Library Director Scott Bonner to implement the StoryCorps @ your library program. The Ferguson Municipal Public Library was one of 10 public libraries nationwide chosen to participate in the program, which helps record a community’s history by inviting individuals to visit the library and have their stories recorded.
The Ferguson Public Library has also received grants from the state library, the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation and Hewlett-Packard, which have enabled them to upgrade existing computers and add new computers and equipment.
“We will be replacing the Chromebook laptops in the children's area with desktop computers, with plans down the road to add games like Minecraft,” Randazzo said. “We also received 16 laptops that we will be using as a mobile laptop lab for computer classes and, hopefully down the line, more intensive STEM classes for kids.”
Donations to the library also helped Randazzo to purchase incentives for this year’s summer reading program, “Every Hero Has a Story.”
“Since everyone has been so generous, I've been able to buy the kind of prizes for the program (Lego sets, Kindle Fires, etc.) that I would have liked to win if I was a kid,” Randazzo said. “I'm currently working on plans for a final party for the program, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to put something together that will allow everyone who registered for summer reading to participate, not just those who completed the program. ”
Though Randazzo says she feels she’s playing a game of catch-up, she’s doing it with an eye to the future. Plans include a revamped teen advisory group, a monthly evening story time for all ages — and perhaps even reaching for the stars.
“Lately I've thinking about the future, and what we can do,” Randazzo said. “We received a telescope through the St. Louis Astronomical Society's Library Telescope program, and that will soon be available for patrons to check out and use at home. I'm planning on holding a star party and having them come out and teach patrons how to use our telescope and how to find things in the night sky.”