Jackson Hinds Library Systems offers innovative services for children going back to school

August 22, 2018 in News

The Mississippi Link Newswire,

While you are out around town purchasing last-minute school supplies, you may want to plan a stop at one of the 14 local Jackson Hinds Library branches.

The library system is offering some new services that can help children, aged 5-11, have a better chance to succeed in school this year. Among the latest offerings is the brand-new Fine-Free Kid’s Card, which is now available at all 14 JHLS libraries throughout Jackson and Hinds County.

The innovative card allows a child to check out books without requiring parents to pay overdue fines or fees. How does the new card work? Any child aged 5-11 that lives in Hinds County can enroll in the new program for free. No ID is necessary as long as the child is enrolled in school in Hinds County. Once the child has the new Fine-Free Kid’s Card in hand, they can check out 2 (two) books each time they visit the library from the picture book, juvenile fiction or juvenile non-fiction sections. Participating children will also be given a colorful plastic tote bag to carry the books back and forth to the library. The books will have an initial three week check-out period, and they can be renewed for three additional weeks. Even if the books are kept out longer than the six week program, no fine will accrue. As long as the books are returned within three months of the original check-out date, the child can continue to return to the library and check out the two books. If the items are not returned at the three month mark, the child’s account will be frozen, and the child will need to return the books or pay a lost book fee to reactivate the card again.

Who can register a child for the program? Library Director Patty Furr said, “We are inviting parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, church or youth group leaders to sponsor a child for the Fine-Free Library Card as long as they can bring their children at least once every three weeks.”

The card will only be effective in improving reading skills if the child can come to the library on a regular basis. Teachers within walking distance of the library can get a Fine-Free Kid’s Card for their students as long as they are willing and able to bring their class to the library at least once every three weeks. Library visits by school classes must be scheduled in advance with the branch manager.

Furr comments, “We want to thank the Institute for Library and Museum Services and the Mississippi Library Commission for allowing us to use these federal funds for such an innovative program. This particular grant will allow the Jackson Hinds Library System to offer exciting computer coding activities for elementary-aged children using iPads, programmable robots and simple computers.” Furr adds, “This grant is going to be so much fun for the kids who will be participating, as they will be using iPads to guide robots through an obstacle course. They will also learn how to create and control a “bot” on a computer screen and control its movements. All these activities are a fun way to learn introductory computer programming skills, which in turn could interest a child in a future career in the computer coding industry.” Computer coding is a skill that is currently in great demand throughout the state, as analysts predict that Mississippi will need about 30,000 computer coders in the next ten years to meet the demands of high-tech industries in the state.

The Jackson Hinds Library System has partnered in the past with the Mississippi Coding Academy. Furr explains, “We allowed the Mississippi Coding Academy to use the Technology Teaching Lab at Welty Library for the first three months of the eleven month-long course. Developing these kinds of coding skills over an eleven month period can qualify graduates of the program to find a lucrative career after just an eleven month-long training course. This program can help high school graduates qualify for careers with Mississippi employers that pay over $50,000-$60,000 a year. Hosting the coding program made our library staff aware of the importance of developing an interest in coding at an early age.”

Furr continues, “Our elementary coding program, which is the first of its kind in the state, will help children experience how much fun it is to control computers and robots using coding.”

The program will start in November at several of our city libraries and the program will travel to county libraries in the future.

The Jackson Hinds Library System is funded by the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and the City of Jackson.

For more information, parents can access the library website at www.jhlibrary,org for details of the program as the fall progresses.