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Georgia's public libraries and national parks partner to celebrate NPS centennial

GPLS News, April 2016

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Georgia
Bob Weatherford, Cobb County Commissioner; Benita Duling, park ranger; Andrew Bramlett, centennial junior ranger; Julie Walker, State Librarian; Sherri Fields, NPS; Nancy Walther, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park

Partnership encourages families to "Find Your Park" through summer reading

The state's 405 public libraries will join seven Georgia units of the National Park Service (NPS) this summer to celebrate the 100th birthday of America's national parks and the state's 2016 Summer Reading Program. Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) and NPS announced the partnership today at a kickoff event held at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.

The goals of the "Find Your Park at Your Library" partnership are many, said Sherri Fields, NPS deputy Southeast regional director. They include enabling Georgians to explore, learn, be inspired by or simply have fun in their local national parks, as well as to help residents understand how the NPS's community-based recreation, conservation and historic preservation programs positively impact Georgia communities. "With this new partnership, we bring together two of Georgia's gems, its national parks and libraries," she said.

Participating parks include:

Beginning in late May, Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) will provide each of the 63 public library systems in the state with a reference collection of approximately 30 books about Georgia's public lands. GPLS will acquire about two dozen of those 30 titles through NPS partner Eastern National, the nonprofit organization that publishes educational and interpretive publications that provide visitors with additional insights into the cultural, natural and scientific features of America's national parks.

“Find Your Park at Your Library” partnership kickoff

"We will connect children and their families to their national parks through neighborhood libraries," Fields said. "Our hope is that families will take the next step — to experience firsthand the wonderful outdoors and stories with an actual visit to a park."

The books will showcase the parks mentioned above, as well as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine; the Andersonville National Historic Site; the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, which preserves a series of sites along scenic trails between Atlanta and Lake Sidney Lanier; the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains; and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which passes through northern Georgia as it winds its way between North Carolina and Oklahoma.

"Public libraries are uniquely positioned to help educate residents about our national parks and to encourage Georgia readers to have fun as they use that knowledge to make meaningful connections to the nature, history and culture of the state," said State Librarian Julie Walker.

To that end, NPS and GPLS will create zones of library systems around each participating national park site to foster relationships between libraries and the parks closest to them. Depending on the resources of each park, libraries may co-host programs led by park rangers; borrow traveling educational trunks or exhibits from their nearest parks; and distribute book lists highlighting the plants, animals, habitats, geology and history of the Georgia lands administered by the NPS.

As summer reading events begin in May, libraries and parks will encourage children to "Be a Centennial Reader" by completing five parks-related books this summer and to participate -- and earn prizes — in each other's youth-oriented activities. These include the NPS Junior Ranger and Every Kid in the Park programs and Georgia public libraries' 2016 Summer Reading Program, Atlanta Braves Home Run Readers Program and Atlanta Hawks Check-It-Out Reading Challenge.

Participating libraries will promote NPS's popular Find Your Park movement, which inspires all people to connect with, enjoy and support America's national parks. And, in time for the Aug. 25 centennial, many libraries will offer children's craft sessions to make birthday cards for the National Park Service, which GPLS will send to the parks for display.

In September, parks will participate in National Library Card Sign-Up Month. No fees are charged to enter and visit most of Georgia's national parks. Those that do, Fort Pulaski and Cumberland Island, will waive their entrance fees on the NPS birthday and following weekend, Aug. 25-28, and again on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24.

"By offering such joint programs and exhibits across the state, we hope to build the kind of positive relationships between public libraries and national parks that will pay dividends for Georgia residents for many years to come," Walker said.

The NPS-GPLS partnership is supported in part by a grant to GPLS from the Library Services and Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For additional information about NPS, visit www.nps.gov and www.FindYourPark.com. For additional information about GPLS, visit www.georgialibraries.org.