So-called "food deserts" denote areas without access to grocery stores or fresh food, but Sarasota County Libraries and the Sarasota Housing Authority are launching the Book-Rich Environment campaign to address "book deserts" by bringing books into homes and helping families engage with their local libraries.
The effort aims to distribute as many as 2,500 free books this summer to kids living in public housing in Sarasota County, many living in households that fall well below the poverty line.
Sarabeth Kalajian, the director of Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources, joins Gulf Coast Live to discuss the new campaign and how the county's libraries are meeting the needs of residents who are engaging with their library for perhaps the first time.
In the age of the internet, e-readers and smartphones, how are libraries staying relevant? Millennials more likely to use libraries than any other generation, according to recent survey data collected by the Pew Research Center, and counties across Southwest Florida are working to engage that and other generations with new ways to access a library's collection, both in a branch and online.
Barb Farrell Swenson, the principal librarian at South County Regional Library in Estero, and Tanya Williams, division director of Collier County Public Library, also join the program to discuss how they're keeping libraries relevant to users with print and digital offerings this summer, and plans for future engagement.