Wash & Learn with the laundromat libraries!

By August 1, 2019Libraries, News

Two particular things in a parent’s life are constant- laundry and entertaining the kids. Many of us try to keep much of their entertainment as educational as possible but it’s not easy!

Thanks to some generous librarians, and Libraries Without Borders, parents have the opportunity to manage both their laundry and their kids’ education with a laundromat-library scheme. The scheme was popularised in 1989, by librarian Elizabeth McChesney who had visited a local laundromat to introduce herself to families as the Chicago Public Library’s children’s librarian.

“What I saw was that these were families who, because of a variety of circumstances, were not likely to come to the library for storytime.”

McChesney returned to the library, collected up some books, some puppets, and a tambourine, went back to the laundromat, and held an impromptu storytime for the kids there as their laundry was cleaned.

“People have done this off and on for the last 25, 30 years,” the big-hearted librarian says, “Families are now changing their behaviour, showing up to do their laundry when the library is going to be there. One little boy just recently said: ‘Let’s do laundry every day, Mom!’”

The scheme is held all over the USA. Credit: Michigan Radio

Thanks to the initiative, Libraries Without Borders and their affiliates have been providing literacy support and fun storytime for thousands of children- working in 23 languages, 50 countries, with more than 28,000 resources for knowledge and information. They cover many important issues and topics facing families today including education, health, employment, citizenship, environment and sustainability, disability, and technology.

The defunding of public libraries has led to a lack of access to literature and free educational support for low-income families, and schemes like LWB create opportunities for people who may otherwise have lost out on free, fun education.

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