The volunteering hearts and hands of Vineyard residents and others have made it possible for the first-ever library in Vineyard; this one is for the children.

After years of planning and hard work, the Vineyard Children’s Library — located at 240 E. Gammon Road, adjacent to Gammon Park — will open May 22.

The ribbon-cutting will be at 11 a.m., with events running through 1 p.m., including a read-a-thon and fun activities in the park. Food trucks also will be available.

Starting May 25, the library will be staffed with volunteers and will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

More than 100 volunteers have contributed over 800 volunteer hours to make the opening of the library possible.

Sorting books, building book shelves, coding each book and cleaning and remodeling the old city offices have been a part of the birth of the children’s library.

The start of the project began when Mayor Julie Fullmer was still on the Vineyard City Council. It was then she started Citizens Champion Change as she was helping to run the Youth Council.

Fullmer wanted a children’s library and went to the state library for help. They told her before they could do anything, she needed a brick and mortar location. The old city offices fit that bill.

Donations and in-kind donors, including the flooring and paint, etc., began rolling in. Early on, even then-Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and his crew, came to Vineyard to help with sorting books and building shelves.

“Leaders from around the state, young professionals, and retirees volunteered,” Fullmer said. “But it was the Youth Council that closed up the loose ends.”

According to Jessica Welch, the parent advisor to the Youth Council, COVID-19 restrictions last summer canceled almost everything the teenagers could do, so they put all their efforts into making the children’s library open full of books, videos, maps, and even some adult health and wellness books and gardening books.

Perhaps the most fun book is one commissioned by Fullmer that was written and illustrated by Youth Council members Holland and Harrison Welch.

Together they wrote the children’s book “V is for Vineyard.”

“Last summer, Mayor Fullmer approached the Vineyard Youth Council about creating the children’s library,” Holland Welch said. “Later, she brought up the idea of having some Vineyard Youth Council members write a children’s book to commemorate the library and Vineyard.

“My brother and I have always been avid and enthusiastic readers. We were excited for an opportunity to create a book and volunteered to be the writers of the book,” Holland said. “We decided that the book would be an alphabet book highlighting past, present and future aspects of Vineyard with each letter.”

Holland said she chose to make it something a family could read together, with parents explaining concepts or words to their children.

“As my brother and I set out to write the book, we interviewed city leaders such as the city planner, the mayor, and a Heritage Committee member,” Holland said. “We researched the history and ecology of this area for some of the letters. My brother and I are also interested in science, so we decided to include a number of ecology terms and other aspects that encourage green living.”

The Vineyard City staff gathered photos for the book and got a graphic designer to design it.

“I am excited that the children’s book will raise money for running and improving the library. I hope that it will be a fun keepsake for residents about their hometown, and provide entertaining reading for families to learn more about Vineyard,” Holland Welch said. “We were glad to be a part of this project because it provided an opportunity to learn about Vineyard while serving our community.”

The city is now selling the book at a pre-order price of $11. After May 22, the book will be available to purchase at the library for $15.

“Mayor Julie (Fullmer) summarized the early efforts over years to collect used books and designate the old city offices as a library,” Jessica Welch said. “This was all done by volunteers over the span of a few years, but then piles and piles of books sat in the building waiting for further action.”

Welch said it was in July of last year when she was first made aware of the project and the current Vineyard Youth Council got involved.

Fullmer asked members of the Youth Council if they would sort children’s books from adult books that had been donated and then have a used book sale with the adult books.

“We gladly accepted and began to work,” Jessica Welch said. “We did not count at the time, but looking at our current numbers, it must have exceeded seven or eight thousand used donated books to sort through. We accomplished the task and held an outdoor used book sale in August.”

Welch said they had a distanced outdoor event with masks and were able to sell a few hundred books and put the money toward the library effort.

“The (money) was added to a fund with other private donations, a grant through the state and a donation from Flagship Homes,” Jessica Welch said.

The Youth Council took the library under its wing and helped fix up the old city offices. Vineyard Youth Council member Dani Frost planned and painted a mural in the Vineyard Children’s Library.

Holland Welch was selected to be on the UServe Utah State Youth Council for 2020. One of the goals of this council is to create an opportunity for other youth to get involved in their community to serve.

“When VYC was asked to get involved with the library, it seemed like the perfect project to do for her UServe Utah council, so she switched gears to use the library as her UServe Project,” Jessica Welch said.

“Once we had everyone on board, we started to envision how we would turn a pile of thousands of donated used books into a library,” Jessica Welch said. “Holland interviewed two librarians and got feedback and ideas about what software to use and how to go about it.”

They first assigned all 4,300-plus children’s books a genre. Then they taped color stickers on each book to mark their category.

“Next we entered each of the books into the library software we chose to use (Libib). Then we printed all the labels and have been matching each printed label to the book it belongs to,” Jessica Welch said.

“Our next step is to sort the shelves by genre, and clean and set up the library. It took months and scores of hours to complete.”

“We worked in small groups with masks and felt like it was a safe activity we could do despite the restrictions of the pandemic,” Jessica Welch said. “We realized we needed more volunteer power so in August we reached out to a group that lives in the 55+ community and they joined us once a week to help.”

In March of this year they were joined by church youth groups in the city and also a service club from Orem Junior High, the Latinos in Action club.

“These volunteer groups came in midweek throughout the month and helped us make faster progress on our QR code labels step,” Jessica Welch added.

The Vineyard Youth Council also will be at the ribbon-cutting event to help residents get signed up as patrons of the library and get their library card.

The library card will work for the online state library system as well.

“We are currently organizing our volunteer librarians who are youth and other adults in the community who would like to help us out,” Jessica Welch said. “We are also looking to hold some reading time, craft activities and even a couple youth want to have science activities.”

For their efforts, the Vineyard Youth Council has just become a Presidential Volunteer Service Award-certifying organization and several youth will qualify for this national award because of the hours they have put into the library project.

The library is free to all Vineyard residents and will run on volunteer power. Vineyard city officials are asking Vineyard residents ages 3-12 to submit artwork based on the theme “Reading Inspires Imagination” to display in the library. Some of the art contributed will be used in a collaborative display with a tiny art show as a permanent installation in the Vineyard Children’s Library.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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