Kids & Family

Spin Cycles & Storytime

McKeesport gets a first-of-its-kind children's library in a local laundromat.

To help improve declining literacy rates in local public schools, international organization 'Libraries Without Borders' has opened a small children's library space in a family-owned laundromat in McKeesport.

The children's area sits at the front of the laundromat with a small, circular table and custom bookshelf shaped like a bright, green tree. Books can be read inside the designated space, taken home as rentals, or even kept permanently. A digital tablet chock full of educational content is connected to one of the tables for kids to use.

Bright images and a tree-shaped bookshelf help bring a cheery vibe to a laundromat sitting area.

Carry Lane, a rep from the Allegheny County Library Association, says the library is an effort to "meet people where they are," and that future educational programming is in the works from the Pittsburgh Women Infants and Children Program (WIC) and the Carnegie Library of McKeesport .

The "wash and learn" library was funded by a grant from the Grable Foundation to Libraries Without Borders in 2017. Adam Echelman, executive director of LWB, points out that while the libraries are meant for children to enjoy, the program also connects adults with important organizations in their communities, like WQED and WIC.

Children get a hands-on learning experience while using a digital tablet at the new "wash and learn" library.

Bryan and Heidi Calhoun, owners of the Olympia 24-Hour Coin Laundry where the library is held, admit they thought the project was a joke when it was initially pitched to them last year. Now, they say most families come in with their children, and often people walking by will stop in to check out the library.

Adam says his goal is to eventually have a "wash and learn" library in every laundromat in the country, and even plans to place a few more in Allegheny County.

Check out the Burgh's first 'Laundromat Library' in McKeesport and tell us why your community needs one of its own.

(Images courtesy of Adam Tunnard - 90.5/WESA)

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