The Pickerington Public Library next month will open a new area designated to helping local students with schoolwork.
The Pickerington-Reynoldsburg Rotary Club Homework Help Center, in memory of Mary Ann Kirkby is expected to be opened Jan. 22.
The center, a first for the library, will seek to provide computers, homework software, research opportunities and other assistance to students after school and on weekends.
It was made possible after the library received approximately $12,500 in donations from area groups and library patrons.
"We have the physical space pretty much done," said Kent Daniels, library assistant director.
"We're getting ready to order some (Macintosh computers), Daniels said.
"We're going to stock the center with MacBooks."
At least initially, the homework help center will focus on serving students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
It will be open from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
It's being designed to provide those students with space to complete homework projects, as well as equipment and resources to help them research school projects.
Additionally, the library will have volunteers on-site to help students with research and using library tools and equipment, as well as to maintain order in the center.
"We're starting out slowly to see how it's received," Daniels said. "We're taking adults and even teen volunteers to oversee it.
"Initially, it won't be by appointment," he said.
"It will just be walk-ins. Eventually, it could be by appointment where parents reserve a block of space."
To date, the homework help center has been backed by a $3,000 donation from the Friends of the Pickerington Public Library, a $2,500 donation from the Pickerington-Reynoldsburg Rotary Club and more than $1,650 in donations from local businesses and library patrons during a March 17 "Spare Change Day" fundraiser.
Pickerington Public Library Director Suellen Goldsberry said, the Kirkby family has donated $5,000 in memory of Mary Ann Kirkby, a former library board trustee who taught social studies for 16 years at Ridgeview Junior High School.
After a five-year battle with lung cancer, Kirkby died at the age of 61 Sept. 11, 2009.
Library officials decided to name the center in her honor due to her dedication to both the library and helping children and teenagers in their scholastic development and pursuits.
"That's a very generous donation from the Kirkby family," Goldsberry said last April.
"I'm deeply honored that they want to donate that much to remember Mary Ann.
"When Mary Ann was on the board, she was always so supportive of the students and she was always encouraging us to engage in projects that would support students," Goldsberry said.
"She was a very important influence on me."
Through the help of the Pickerington-Reynoldsburg Rotary Club, the library secured donated computers, and the Pickerington Local School District is donating used furnishings to outfit the area, which likely will be located next to the library's reference area.
Daniels said the library continues to accept donations for the project, as it strives to reach a goal of $15,000 in donations.
Contributions will be used to adequately equip the help center, he said.
Additional donations also are sought so the library can dedicate a paid staff member who, in addition to library volunteers, will manage the center and help students learn to use library resources to complete and enhance their schoolwork.
"The Columbus Metro (Library) System, all their locations have homework help centers," Daniels said.
"There are others throughout the area that have them, too.
"We're really excited," he said.
"The thing we're focusing on right now is finding volunteers and people who want to help kids."
Additional information about the homework help center can be obtained by visiting www.pickeringtonlibrary.org, or by calling the library at (614) 837-4104.