Ethan Hayes was less than a day old when he received his first library card.
His mother Arianna Carlisle was given the card in Ethan's name on May 16 as part of a new "Welcome Baby" initiative, a partnership among Advocate Sherman Hospital, Gail Borden Public Library, Greater Elgin Family Care Center and the Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties. The program promotes literacy and early reading opportunities.
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All newborns at the Elgin hospital will get a library card if they live in the Gail Borden district. Parents will then be invited to a "Baby's First Library Visit" at the library, where they get a gift bag with information about literacy and more, and the chance to checkout "Baby Bundles" books.
Carlisle, who lives in Elgin, said she's never heard of anything like that.
"I was surprised, but I also thought it was a very good idea," she said.
Carlisle said she grew up spending time at the library with her siblings, but hasn't had a library card since she was about 13.
She does love reading books, however -- about two per month -- and had recently been thinking about getting a card to save money on buying books, she said.
"I will do it when I go with him," she said.
The gift bag for parents includes a baby picture book donated by the Junior League, and tote bags purchased by the Elgin Family Care Center, said Ana Devine, Gail Borden's youth and family outreach manager.
The goal is to introduce families to baby-related programming at the library, such as "Baby rhyme time," to promote early literacy, Devine said.
"Some parents may think, 'My child is going to read when they go to school.' They don't understand that as early as possible, the more you talk to your baby, sing to your baby and even play with your baby, all that is important in starting early literacy."
Sherman spokeswoman Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson said literacy is directly connected to health.
"We found that literacy is a huge barrier for us, people understanding health information," she said. "We're jumping into this and other programs that focus on literacy."
The idea came out of a project last year designed to elicit participation in the library's summer reading program, Devine said.
"We were doing that by having family caseworkers ask the moms, 'Are your reading to your baby?'" she said. "Out of that we thought, 'We should turn it into a year-round project.' Out of that idea was, 'Why don't we go directly to the hospital where the baby is born?'"
For more information about Welcome Baby or to become a sponsor, contact Devine at (847) 608-5012.