Philadelphia, PA – On October 24, the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts (the Kislak Center) welcomed 60 fifth-grade students and their teachers, Sacha Marie Langley, Lindsey Coyne and Jill Morgan, from the Henry C. Lea School (the Lea School) in West Philadelphia. Students visited the Kislak Center as one of many enrichment opportunities offered as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s ongoing partnership with the Lea School to build a learning bridge between the School’s students and the University’s resources.  In addition to offering enrichment activities for Lea School students in the Kislak Center, in 2014, the Penn Libraries appointed a staff member to serve as a Community Outreach Librarian to West Philadelphia public K-12 schools to increase library instruction and access to library resources.

“We are so proud to be working with Henry C. Lea School and other West Philadelphia schools to support their own under-resourced libraries, to foster a love of reading and to help young learners better understand the enduring value of libraries in general,” stated Carton Rogers, Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries.  “Having so many Lea School students here at the Kislak Center was invigorating for my staff and, I hope, a fun and memorable learning activity for the students and their teachers.  The library is not only a place for quiet study, but a center for hands-on, active learning.”

As part of the day’s activities in the Kislak Center, students rotated through three activities centered around the theme of bookmaking.  Students participated in a treasure hunt based on two of the Kislak Center’s exhibits featuring prominent children’s book illustrators and editors, William Steig and Atha Tehon.  Another activity took place in the Kislak Center’s Henry Charles Lea Library, where students viewed a portrait of Henry C. Lea, their schools’ namesake, learned about the making of medieval manuscripts and viewed some of the Kislak Center’s treasures.  Students finished the day exploring book structure and design, viewed a variety of the children’s books, printed their own bookplate with an image from one of the Kislak Center’s early manuscripts, and placed their bookplate in a blank book in which they were asked to write their own story. They also received copies of Henry C. Lea’s bookplate.

Reflecting on the day, Lea School teacher Lindsey Coyne shared, “Our visit to the Kislak Center was both informative and exciting for our students.  The Penn Libraries’ staff graciously welcomed us into their facilities and provided students with a day filled with learning. We are all thankful for the hard work that went into planning our visit and look forward to building a relationship with the Penn Libraries.”

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About the Penn Libraries
The Penn Libraries serve the world-class faculty and students of Penn’s 12 schools. The Libraries’ collections comprise more than 7 million volumes, over 100,000 journals, some 2 million digitized images, and extraordinary rare and unique materials that document the intellectual and cultural experience of ancient and modern civilizations. Through our collaborative relationships, we supplement Penn’s great local collections with physical access to the Center for Research Libraries (approximately 5 million items), the combined holdings of the Ivies (more than 70 million volumes), and exclusive electronic access to some 2 million public domain titles in the HathiTrust. Today, the Libraries play an instrumental role in developing new technologies for information discovery and dissemination and are noted for groundbreaking work in digital library design.  To learn more about the Penn Libraries, visit http://www.library.upenn.edu.

About the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
The Kislak Center is a vibrant space that brings together people, technology and unique content.  Located on the top floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, it was redesigned in 2013 to allow several different groups to interact with objects of study simultaneously, increasing the use of primary resources in the University’s curriculum and access to the Libraries’ resources for the larger scholarly community.  Today the Kislak Center encompasses the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Furness Memorial Shakespeare Library, the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. To learn more about the Kislak Center, visit http://www.library.upenn.edu/kislak.

About the Henry C. Lea Elementary School
Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014, the Henry C. Lea Elementary School seeks to offer a high quality educational environment where every child is conceived of as My Child, incorporating the linguistic, educational and cultural assets of our diverse community while creating a safe and supportive environment that fosters learning and healthy development. The school sits geographically at the corner of 47th and Locust Streets, in a neighborhood adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus that provides access to the myriad programs this vital partnership brings. Our academic program centers around a literacy focus across the curriculum; a service learning model to bring the world into the classroom and students out into the world; and a community school model to enrich the educational environment by integrating local cultural and institutional resources.  To learn more, visit http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/schools/l/henry-c.-lea.