WRL granted $34k to boost streaming, gaming, reading

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Williamsburg Regional Library cardholders can now stream up to three hours of ad-free music every day. (Courtesy WRL)
Thanks to a grant from the Friends of the Williamsburg Regional Library, cardholders will be able stream up to three hours of ad-free music daily through 2018. (Courtesy WRL)

With a little help from its friends, Williamsburg Regional Library will be expanding its reach in music streaming, video gaming and reading.

The board of the Friends of the Williamsburg Regional Library recently approved six grants totaling $34,000, according to a news release. The money will be used to boost four existing programs and develop two new ones.

“Funding from the Friends helps the library provide a margin of excellence in the collections and programs we offer our community,” Interim Director Janet Crowther said in a release.

The new initiatives will target young patrons, from preschoolers to teens.

Preschool Stay & STEM, for example, is a science, technology, engineering and math-focused playtime that will help build problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. A $3,000 grant will enable the library to buy toys and storage bins.

WRL also received a $2,000 grant for video-game offerings such as International Games Day and Anime Con. Those events attracted more than 200 children and teenagers to the library in 2016. The grant will be used to buy video games and consoles.

The remaining awards will help bolster the library’s reading and music programs.

The biggest single grant was $16,000 for School Author Visits, which brings children’s authors into Williamsburg-James City County schools to discuss reading, writing, determination and pursuing their dreams. The funding will cover author visits in 2018.

A $6,250 grant will renew the Freegal Music Streaming license, also for 2018. Freegal gives WRL cardholders daily access to three hours of free, ad-free music from the Sony Music collection. Patrons have streamed more than 7,800 songs per month since July, when the library added this service to its Freegal options.

WRL’s Gab Bags program for reading groups will benefit from a $3,500 grant to develop leadership-themed offerings. Gab Bags include several copies of a book, along with questions and extra materials designed to spark discussion. The 214 titles currently in Gab Bags do not include business- or management-themed books.

The Friends also authorized a $3,200 grant to renew the Beanstack Online Reading Program license for the 2018 fiscal year. Beanstack, which began in 2016 as part of the library’s Summer Reading Program, gives users a way to track their progress online, earn badges and get suggestions based on books they’ve already read.

To access the library’s Freegal Music Streaming service visit www.wrl.org/music.