SHADY SPRING, WV (WVNS)– As state lawmakers around the nation cut funding to public libraries, the facilities play a more crucial than ever in promoting childhood literacy, librarians in Raleigh County reported Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

Shady Spring District Branch Public Library Children’s Programs Director Lesley Peck said her Raleigh County library provides children’s and adult’s books and other resources.

In a region where some children do not have reliable access to internet service, the Shady Spring library provides children with “literacy packs” throughout the summer and when school starts.

The library recently added a small food distribution program, with help from Save the Children, because, Peck said, nutrition and education are interconnected.

Beckley Area Foundation also supports the library.

Peck noted that in the U.S., tests show only half of the nation’s third-graders are able to read at a proficient level.

“Half of the children by third grade, they’re the only ones that can read proficiently,” she said. “So we want to help raise those scores, and we’ve been trying to do that, with literacy packs throughout the summer. We have bags now, here, that they can come and pick up.”

In West Virginia, only 44 percent of third-graders read at a proficient level, recent tests show.

While Covid played a role, Peck said it is not evident that disruptions to class time during the pandemic were the only factor contributing to the low rate.

She said nutrition, family support, health, and access to services are also factors.

Peck said Shady Spring District Branch Public Library welcomes the public and offers help with job resumes, along with other services.

More information is available by calling 304-763-2681.