The Literacy Bell in Pulaski County

Even though my professional librarian life has focused on technology, I really am first and foremost a lover of books. And even though my professional librarian life has focused on adults (beyond the few nerve-wracking times I filled in at storytime), I am most passionate about the importance of library services for children. Summer Reading Programs, Storytimes, early literacy enhancers of all kinds… I am moved by hearing about them like I am by nothing else.

I wanted to share a story from the Pulaski County Public Library in Somerset, KY. I was there to teach adults (library staff from KY libraries) about technology (technology planning), but during the break, one of the class participants asked me, “Have you seen the library’s literacy bell?” I had not, so we walked upstairs and I received a tour of the Children’s Department.

Below the literacy bell sign is a locked case. When a child reads his or her first book, the case is unlocked and the child is allowed to “ring” the bell. It is a loud bell. The ringing of the bell is treated with a fair amount of pomp and circumstance – as it should be. Other libraries have heard about the bell and have contacted Pulaski County to ask if it’s OK to “borrow” the idea (which they say it is).

The Literacy BellThe Literacy Bell

The literacy bell is just one of the innovative and important things the Pulaski County Public Library is doing. I spent the day in the beautiful new library building and there was a constant buzz of lively activity. I had lunch with the director, Judy Burdine, and just loved listening to her talk. She’s a powerhouse of can-do attitude and ideas for action. She’ll be retiring from the director position soon and I’m sure she will be missed. She exemplifies the connection to community and emphasis on what’s important that I think are common traits in the greatest directors.

More photos from the Pulaski County Public Library