When Pinney Library moved to an interim location over the winter, it lost dedicated space for storytimes and other youth events. But thanks to a partnership with the Lussier Family East YMCA, Pinney Library staff have been able to continue these important programs for patrons — and even reach new kids who face barriers to visiting the library.

Briana Kurlinkus, director of early childhood education at the YMCA, said the YMCA has built a strong working relationship with Pinney Youth Librarian Holly Storck-Post and Library Supervisor Sarah Lawton.

Pinney staff have worked on literacy outreach programming with the YMCA for several years, but since Pinney’s move to its interim location at 211 Cottage Grove Road, they have added public storytimes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in the YMCA’s multipurpose room.

Those who attend do not need to be YMCA members. They’ve also brought early literacy programs and activities to the YMCA’s summer camps and preschool programs, such as the Group Summer Reading Club, and provided literacy training to camp leadership. The library attends YMCA special events like the Back to School Bash and Ice Cream Social as well.

The YMCA has been receiving very positive feedback about the library programs offered there, Kurlinkus says. “It has brought our community closer together … this is really about community, it’s really about partnership. It keeps getting bigger and bigger, and we just continue to look forward to what’s in store for us with the new location.”

YMCA staff have also participated in discussions about the new Pinney Library spaces, such as the PlayLab, a 435-square-foot area designed to help children develop early literacy skills through open-ended play.

Because summer camps serve a large share of families relying on financial assistance, the YMCA can reach kids who face barriers to visiting the library and teach them about the importance of reading and literacy, Kurlinkus says.

“The library is this great, awesome resource — and we want to teach them to love your local library and to share that the library is for everyone,” she says.

Pinney Library Supervisor Lawton is appreciative of the YMCA’s support throughout the construction phase. “We are thankful to the YMCA for engaging with the library by hosting youth programs, participating in the design process for the new library and the early literacy initiatives we are planning, providing space for community meetings related to the public art, and spreading the word about the library’s move,” she says. “We are so fortunate to have the YMCA as a great neighbor!”