A $5,000 grant awarded to the Merced County Library system will help launch a movie-screening program to boost readership during the summer months.
The Board of Supervisors on March 12 approved the grant application, which allows for the purchase of two televisions, two DVD players and five movie licenses -- one for the main library in Merced, and the rest for the regional branches in Los Banos, Atwater, Gustine and Livingston.
Diane Satchwell, county librarian, said the grant money from the California State Library will go toward the purchase of equipment.
"After the summer reading is done, we still have the equipment and movie licenses, and can tie it in with other programs," Satchwell said. "Without this grant, we wouldn't be able to do this."
The Merced County Library will present nine separate movies based on books over a four-month period -- three for teens, three for children and three for pre-teens. The movie titles will depend on the movie licenses, Satchwell said.
Participants will read the book before watching the movie, then discuss differences and similarities. A craft project will follow, as will snacks.
Movie day likely will run one Saturday a month, at each of the five main locations, beginning during the summer reading program, she said.
The program is aimed at increasing Merced County's readership, especially among teenagers. The Merced County Library's circulation numbers are one of the lowest in California, with a decreasing number of juvenile borrowers.
However, the 25,452 items in the Los Banos collection are checked out 43,814 times, or about 1.72 times per year. That's triple the rate countywide.
Los Banos Friends of the Library member Colleen Menefee said her group wrote a letter in support of the $5,000 grant. She said it supports the library's goal to educate children, adults and families.
"It will be a nice addition for the Westside," Menefee said, adding it's a good way to keep children busy.
Satchwell is new to Merced County, moving from Oregon three months ago to accept the librarian's job. Before that, she worked in San Diego County and in Oakland's library systems.
"Every day, I am more thrilled to be here," she said. "I'm looking at new models of service, and adding more technology and programs. The potential here is limitless."