Adventure Backpacks

Each year the Friends of the Library invites Library employees to submit their enterprising ideas for consideration of a Pioneer Grant. Projects must be innovative and beneficial to the community and lead the way to a knowledgeable, inclusive, and engaged community empowered by the Library. This year two projects were awarded grants.

Adventure Backpacks

Community Engagement Librarians Jen Hoffman and M. W. and Edwin Fallwell, a Senior Information Assistant, proposed a collection of Adventure Backpacks. In their proposal, the team noted that the backpacks would “facilitate an interactive exploration of nature, the outdoors, and local park and trail systems.”

Adventures Backpacks contain several useful items for your outdoor adventure including identification guides (flowers, trees, birds), and outdoor tools (binoculars, compass, multi-tool, flashlight).

Additionally, the team worked with the Department of Natural Resources and Indiana State Parks to provide a voucher allowing for free admission to any Indiana State Park. Backpacks check out for seven days and are now available!

Dyslexia-Friendly Library

A second Pioneer Grant was awarded to Community Engagement Librarian Kim Baker to make the Library dyslexia-friendly. The purpose of the project is to kickstart development of a new service offering for dyslexic individuals, their caretakers, or people looking to learn more about dyslexia.

Kim’s proposal requested funds for staff training to serve as a foundation for a system-wide turn towards developing a dyslexic-friendly library. Kim was motivated by Indiana’s Senate Enrolled Act 217 which dictates that all kindergarteners through second-graders must be pre-screened for dyslexia.

“The Library is in a unique position to offer individuals in our community much-needed resources and support in an inclusive environment which they may not otherwise have access to furthering our ability to foster lifelong learning opportunities for members of our community,” Baker wrote.

As part of the dyslexia-friendly library project, all children’s signage at Downtown and Ellettsville has been updated. While the Library is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff are developing their understanding of dyslexia through online training and expanding their knowledge of accessible resources. More updates coming soon!


Curious about past Pioneer Grant winners? In 2019, Creating Access for Violence Survivors (CAVS) was proposed by Information Assistant Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian. The project created Library protocol for Monroe County residents in hiding or transitional housing due to escaping domestic violence. It also provided training for Library staff on domestic violence and related issues, and gave Middle Way House residents access to eLibrary and digital learning tools on Library-curated iPads and Playaway tablets.