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Grover Beach Laundromat will have the first Libromat in SLO County 

First 5 Preschool teacher Shannon Pimentel's washer and dryer were temporarily out of service when she was recently having a part of her home remodeled.

It prompted her to visit her local Laundromat. She told New Times she spent nearly two hours there and throughout her visit she noticed there were a lot of children.

"The kids were kind of running around and having fun," she said.

The adults were doing their laundry or reading magazines.

Her first thought was if the adults have magazines to read then the children need to have something to read as well.

Pimentel said her experience as a teacher taught her the value of books, and it inspired her.

"While the families' clothes were washing, the kids can sit in their parents' laps and they could explore books," she said. "When the kids are sitting and reading time goes by faster."

Pimental started doing some research and realized that many communities within the United States were implementing libraries in Laundromats and other places where families frequent.

The library-in-a-Laundromat project was a team effort, South County Regional Librarian Rosalyn Pierini said. The County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries in partnership with First Five of San Luis Obispo County, Raising a Reader, Altrusa International of San Luis Obispo County, and Laundromat owners Jack and Terrie Garretson brought the Libromat to life.

click to enlarge BOOKS TO YOU Cole's Linen and Laundry in Grover Beach will be the site of the first "Libromat" in SLO County. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ROSALYN PIERINI
  • Photo Courtesy Of Rosalyn Pierini
  • BOOKS TO YOU Cole's Linen and Laundry in Grover Beach will be the site of the first "Libromat" in SLO County.

The Libromat is slated to open Feb. 22 at Cole's Linen and Laundry located at 360 W. Grand Avenue in Grover Beach. The grand opening celebration includes: a bilingual story time with Oceano Branch Manager Kate McMillen, free goodie bags (a book, puppet, and other surprises designed to help make reading fun), and information for parents in English and Spanish about how to engage children in literacy activities and encourage reading as an enjoyable family activity.

Pierini said the library's mission is not only a recreational community center but also an educational institution. Part of that mission is getting the word out about books. When a parent and child read a book at a Laundromat, she said, they might realize what an enjoyable experience it is.

"It enhances their kids' verbal skills and lays the platform for becoming readers, and then they will think, 'Oh maybe we want to get more books,'" she said.

That could lead the family toward visiting the library to get more books.

"It's on a lot of levels working for the community good and just also promoting the mission and services of the library," Pierini said.

The books that are chosen for the Libromat are provided by Raising a Reader—a national nonprofit organization that offers local agencies an evidence-based early literacy and parent engagement program for kids 0-8 years old. On the Libromat shelves, the books will be multicultural and in English and Spanish.

Pimentel said inside the books are little cards that educate and encourage parents to not only read to their children but also to tell different stories based on the book's pictures, ask questions about the story, and ask their child what they would like to see next in the story.

The local Altrusa chapter is tasked with replenishing and rotating the books in the Libromat every week.

Pierini said while the books are meant to stay on the shelves of the Libromat, it's OK if some books end up going home.

Fast facts

The city of Morro Bay was recently awarded the Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. The recognition goes to communities with strong commitments to bicycling. Those commitments include creating transportation and recreational resources that benefit its residents of all ages and abilities while encouraging healthier and more sustainable transportation choices. To be considered for the recognition, qualifying communities must submit an application to the League; the organization consults with local cyclists and bicycle advocates prior to making decisions. Morro Bay is one of 488 bicycle-friendly communities and has received the designation in the past. To learn more about the award, visit bikeleague.org. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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