First 5 Lex Partner Spotlight: Lexington Public Library

We are kicking off a new blog series to show our appreciation for First 5 Lex community partners and supporters! Today, we get to TALK with Kelli Parmley, the Community Relations Manager at the Lexington Public Library.

In addition to checking out books, the Lexington Public Library offers events and classes for children and adults. These services include laptop checkout and guided audio walking tours through Downtown Lexington. For children, the library offers homework help, recommends good books, hosts storytimes, and plans to roll out their new program, Destination Kindergarten, in 2021. If you’d like to learn more about programming for your child, click here.

Let’s learn more about the Lexington Public Library in our question and answer session with Kelli!

Can you tell us about your organization’s community outreach?

We have an Outreach Services department, but it’s not currently operational due to the pandemic. Under normal circumstances, we go to about 40 childcare facilities per month to do storytime for over 130 preschool classrooms. We also go to about 16 assisted living facilities for adults with a book-mobile and drop off materials there. We also do special programming for seniors at about 15 other places. There are 15 childcare facilities in Lexington that get our book van services, where we drop off materials every two weeks.

What kinds of programming do you provide for children and families?

The main programming we do for children is our traditional storytime. We read books, sing songs, and sometimes incorporate games and crafts.

How long has your organization been part of the First 5 community team?

We’ve been a part of First 5 Lex since the very beginning! The Lexington Public Library was one of their original partners.

Why was partnering with First 5 Lex a logical fit for your organization?

The whole concept of First 5 Lex is exactly in line with Lexington Public Library’s mission. We both emphasize early literacy and have programs in place to engage families. Our motto is “read, write, sing, talk and play” and First 5’s motto is “read, talk and play”, so our missions definitely overlap.

Why do you think the First 5 message - to read, talk, and play with little ones each day- is so important?

Lots of parents don’t feel qualified to engage with their children because they aren’t a childcare provider. I think the First 5 message provides an easy way for parents to engage with their children because it’s so simple - You can read. You can talk. You can play.

In your opinion, what positive change has First 5 Lex made in the community?

I think they’ve done a great job at simply getting the “read, talk and play” message out and just emphasizing how anyone can connect with their kids. Another positive change is how First 5 initiated bringing the Community Action Council, the YMCA and the Lexington Public Library together. Being together in one place makes us constantly aware of what the other organizations are promoting, and enables us to share and promote each others’ programs.

How do you hope to continue to partner with First 5 in the future?

We’re launching a new program in 2021 called Destination Kindergarten. This is an early literacy initiative targeting children from birth to age 5, and it came from our involvement with First 5 Lex. First 5 worked with us to promote the program.

Story time photo taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions.

Just for fun:

What is your favorite children’s book to READ?

”Froggy Gets Dressed” by Jonathan London

If you have an afternoon with nothing scheduled, how would you PLAY?

I love board games! If I was hanging out with a child, that’s probably what we’d do.

If you could TALK with one person, from the past or present, who would it be, and what would you ask them?

I’d talk to my Dad because I don’t have him with me anymore. I don’t know if I’d ask him anything, I’d just thank him for all he taught me. He always read stories to me, helped me with my homework and got me ready for school.

Thank you to Kelli and the team at the Lexington Public Library for making a difference in the lives of children in Lexington and beyond!

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