Long time Corbit-Calloway employee Katryna Cera-Proulx has created a new program aimed at including local Spanish-speaking residents. The new program, a preschool story time, starts tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Twenty-two-year-old Katryna Cera-Proulx started volunteering at the library when she was 15. She wasn't an avid reader but in the midst of family turmoil, she was looking for her safe place in the world.

"My parents were divorcing and I needed something to do," Cera-Proulx said. "So, I started coming here and I just immediately fell in love with it."

That love of the library sustained her throughout high school, propelling her toward college. She matriculated through Delaware Technical Community College and Wilmington University and is now working on her master's degree in library information science through the University of South Florida's online program. Her passion for what a library can do is infectious and her face lights up when she talks about it.

"There's a place to sell and a place for economics in the world. You have to buy things, you have to sell things, you have to make a living," she said. "But, I think the library is the one place where you can give to people and you don't have to sell it. You can give programs. It's also an informational hub where people can come learn. I know people have access to the internet at their homes but access isn't learning."

As she talks about everything the library, in particular the Corbit-Calloway Library can offer the community, the conversation shifts to people who are not utilizing the library. Cera-Proulx knows that there are people in her community who feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the library and she can relate to them. Born in Montreal, Canada to a French mother and a Columbian-born father, the college student has lived in the United States most of her life. But, she says her dad was only 18-years-old when they moved to America and the language barrier was a problem for a long time. So, it's no surprise to her when she hears of Spanish-speaking residents who seem fearful of the library.

"We have a few Spanish-speaking people who know that I work here and that I can understand them and help them," she explained. "But, I'd like to see more. I'd like to help more."

So, with the help of Library Director Karen Quinn, who Cera-Proulx sees as a role model and mentor, she has created a new program meant to bridge the language divide.

"Our preschool story times are very popular and very well attended," she said. "So, I thought a great way to bring some of these families in would be to create a pre-school story time that is completely in Spanish."

She said that everyone, even English-speaking children and their families are welcome to attend but that the entire program will be done in Spanish. She added that this will be different from other programs that are typically done in both English and Spanish. Her hope is that the program will entice Spanish-speakers to overcome their fear and isolation and that they'll see a place for themselves at the library as well.

"Every program we do has benefits that go beyond what we offer," Cera-Proulx explained. "Obviously, a story time has literacy benefits. But, it also fosters community. The kids get together, get excited together. But, the parents are getting together, too. I see a lot of moms who look forward to story time because of the quality time with other adults. Everyone should have that."

The program begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Corbit-Calloway Library. Cera-Proux tapped Yaisa Labañino-Valdez, who took English classes several years ago through one of the library's literacy programs, to read the books to the children. The first session centers on turtles but the theme will change each week. The kids will also have the opportunity to participate in a theme-related craft.

"Our library is small but there's such a sense of community. We know almost everyone who comes in," Cera-Proulx said. "We know what their name is, what their child's name is. But, we want to know more. It's important to me that everybody feels like they have a place here."

The program will continue every Thursday evening in September. It will then be held twice a month. Cera-Proulx said that anyone who would like more information about the program should contact her at (302) 378-8838