ENGLEWOOD — Venice resident Jessica Close frequents Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood and appreciates what it has to offer for her children. She has more reason to be thankful with the introduction of new machines from Advanced Workstations in Education.
The Library Foundation of Sarasota held a dedication Tuesday at Elsie Quirk, 100 W. Dearborn St., introducing 10 new AWE Early Literacy Stations in Sarasota County libraries.
“I love the community coming together to support literacy and helping kids’ education,” said Close, whose children attend Englewood Elementary School. “(The AWE program) helps provide a boost to what kids are already learning. My youngest, Jacob, was having a great time playing a game earlier.”
AWE Digital Learning Solutions is an educational company based in Philadelphia. The 10 new AWE stations ensure that every public library in the county will have at least two. AWE stations can be found at the Elsie Quirk, Fruitville, Gulf Gate, Jacaranda, North Port, North Sarasota, Selby and Venice libraries. Funding for the new machines included a $25,000 grant from the William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation, and a matching $10,000 from donors through the Library Foundation, according to a press release.
There were 27 who attended the ceremony consisting of library staff, Friends of Elsie Quirk Library members, parents and their children. Shannon Staub, president of the board for the Library Foundation of Sarasota and a former Sarasota County commissioner, discussed the program before presenting a plaque for the dedication in recognition of the Selby foundation.
“(Elsie Quirk)’s a good, safe environment to learn,” Close said. “You can feel comfortable and the people are very welcoming. People are always smiling. I’m thankful to be part of the event.”
Englewood resident Melissa Carney brought her daughter, Luci Carney, to the event.
“We come to (Elsie Quirk) often,” Carney said. “Luci likes to listen to the stories (on the machine). The games seem to be fun and appropriate for her age. I’m sure she’s learning a lot.”
Elsie Quirk was the first in Sarasota County to have the AWE program, according to youth librarian Cris Walton. The older machines required swapping disks to change programs, whereas the new machines come preloaded with programs and are operated by a touchscreen or a mouse.
Walton said the library hasn’t had any issues with the new machines.
Jennifer Perry, library manager, said the AWE stations complement an existing diverse learning environment.
“Libraries are becoming places for technology, and these AWE stations connect children from ages 1 (through) 8 with technology,” Perry said. “These are kids growing up with technology. (AWE) will help provide the tools to further their education. There’s plenty to do here, and there are safeguards in place for use, since we limit them to 30 minutes (on the machine).”
Perry said AWE can be a useful tool to teach kids about being responsible with technology.
“The experience is like teaching kids to cross the street in the digital world, as you would (in) the real world,” she said.
To reach Elsie Quirk, call 941-861-1212.