Monterey County Free Libraries Gonzales Branch (Sean Roney)

SALINAS VALLEY — For some students in the Monterey County Free Libraries (MCFL) service area, including the Salinas Valley, gaining access to school supplies may be simple, but for many, it is not.

MCFL’s service area covers a stretch of about 130 miles, from Pajaro in the north near Watsonville to Parkfield in southern Monterey County. Several of the branches are in small, rural areas, a long drive away from an office supply store, and supplies can be very costly.

Because of this, MCFL staff decided to apply for a “Copycat” grant from the California State Library in August 2021. They called the grant LEVEL, which stands for heLping studEnts achieVe succEss in schooL.

“We came up with the name LEVEL, in essence, to level the playing field for K-12 students,” said Greenfield Branch Manager Dawn Vest.

In addition, Vest said the purpose and scope of the grant is to:

  • Assist students in grades K-12 by providing them with materials like poster board, markers and other supplies to complete school-assigned projects in a top-notch fashion that enables their projects to earn competitive scores alongside students whose families can provide necessary school supplies;
  • Enable branches to establish Student Success Centers featuring equipment such as three-hole punches, laminators and right-angle rulers that are available for student use whenever the libraries are open; and
  • Provide USB drives for students to save and transport their school assignments and provide instructional handouts on creating basic Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

The Student Success Centers created by the LEVEL grant hope to support students in a variety of ways by giving access to materials they may not have on hand in hopes of taking the stress out of schoolwork and helping students become more successful in school.

All libraries offer free access to computers with internet, Wi-Fi and Microsoft Office products.

“Public libraries help students in so many ways, and school is more than assignments and studies,” said Library Director Hillary Theyer. “I’m proud of our team in developing a way to help meet these needs, and hope to continue to do so in the future.”

The supplies purchased with grant funds have been delivered to all 16 branch libraries in the Monterey County Free Libraries system. Stop by a local branch library to find out what they have to offer, or visit for location information and phone numbers.

The LEVEL grant was funded through the California State Library, supported by funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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