Great Mini-Grant Programs

In My Neighborhood

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Irena Just, Children’s Librarian
Herrin City Library
Herrin, Illinois

When a city library joined forces with an elementary school, a university, an architectural firm, a public television station and a food festival, the result was a Mini-Grant program that spread its benefits throughout the community but began and ended with the children.

The program started with elementary school art classes, where 240 fourth-graders learned about the architecture of their city from a noted local architect. Teachers from nearby Southern Illinois University Carbondale were major resource. One teacher ran a workshop on architectural concepts that included building a model of a geodesic dome. Teachers in training led an author study of Ezra Jack Keats, inspiring an art project of the students’ architectural sketches and collages. The whole program was documented on video by university film students and featured on the local public TV station. Finally, the students’ collages were displayed in the library and at a major city festival. This is a program with extraordinary reach: across institutions, disciplines and generations, looking toward preserving the past and imagining the future.

Top row, from left, James Lockhart, student teacher, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU); Brad Moore, art instructor, Herrin school district; Lenzi Dean and Courtney Grandfield, student teachers, SIU; two SIU students. Below, Mr. Moore’s 4th-grade students.