BENNINGTON >>The Bennington Free Library is among a group of 25 institutions in the state to receive funding for a new early childhood program.

The Vermont Department of Libraries acquired a National Leadership Grant for Libraries award valued at $339,861 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in order to launch the Vermont Early Literacy Initiative in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (VELI-STEM) in libraries throughout the state, according to a release from the state librarian executive assistant on Wednesday.

"I'm thrilled. We knew this was in the works and we knew we were up for the grant. Other librarians and myself wrote letters of support and its just important to not only children's librarians but the kids and grown ups that we serve," Bennington Free Library Children's and Young Adult Librarian Linda Donigan said. "We've been participating in the Vermont early learning initiative and have received early literacy training, early math and science literacy training and training on emotional development, so it also reflects in our collection and what we do in the kids room."


In conjunction with the Vermont Center for the Book, VELI-STEM focuses on 3 to 7 year old children, parents, child care providers and community stakeholders. For three years, the grant will administer professional development training, books and other materials to librarians in hopes to establish a national model for other states' Departments of Libraries, the release stated.

Governor Peter Shumlin, State Librarian Martha Reid and Vermont Center for the Book Associate Director Wendy Martin will host a press conference regarding VELI-STEM on Jan. 26 at 10:30 a.m. in the Vermont State House Room 11.

Librarians at the Bennington location will start training in April and will build on already developed skills as well as the language of STEM and core concepts.

"It's the perfect grant for our library because we have a very interactive space and we have been doing hands on science and math for many years and so this was a wonderful opportunity for us to continue to get training," Donigan said. "It's important not only for our children but good for children and parents to do math and science together."

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.