Giant Wash Coin Laundry, located in St. Paul, Minn., will launch a new “Wash & Learn” program on May 12, in conjunction with a free laundry day at the store. The laundromat will host the free laundry event in celebration of the new program, and offer community members who register between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. free washing and drying. All attendees will have opportunities to participate in librarian-lead learning workshops and take home free books and educational resources.
“Wash & Learn is an example of the forward-thinking ideas and partnerships we intend to advance throughout St. Paul,” said Mayor Melvin Carter III. “Meeting people where they are with library programs, materials, and resources makes perfect sense. It is through these unique partnerships and simple solutions that we build a city that works for all of us.”
Saint Paul Public Library partnered with Minnesota State Library Services and Libraries Without Borders – a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. – to launch Wash & Learn at Giant Wash. The program aims to extend SPPL’s efforts to close the digital divide among residents of the city. Libraries Without Borders will install laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots at the laundromat, alongside bookshelves with materials customers can read on site or check out and take home.
“A lot of families have told us they don’t participate in library programs because they have unpredictable work schedules and can’t afford to miss a shift,” said Allister Chang, executive director of Libraries Without Borders. “Wash & Learn reduces these barriers because it brings the library to a location they visit weekly. It helps families knock out three birds with one stone: wash clothes, complete a professional development program, and help children develop early literacy skills.”
SPPL librarians will work on site at Giant Wash a few hours per week to teach workplace skills, provide storytimes for children, and answer questions. These programs will run from May 5 to October 6, 2018.
Giant Wash is donating the cost of the laundry and Vend-Rite Manufacturing is donating the laundry supplies. The laundromat was first introduced to LWB by the Coin Laundry Association’s LaundryCares Foundation.
“It’s amazing to think that you can change people’s lives through a load of laundry,” said Daryl and Lisa Johnson, owners of Giant Wash. “We have volunteered at other free laundry days across the country, and it was time to do one at home. It only made sense to partner with LWB and help impact literacy issues at the same time. It’s humbling to be a part of this.”
“I’m excited to see this terrific partnership launch,” said Jennifer Nelson, the State Librarian of Minnesota. “There are so many ways people in Minnesota can connect with libraries, and this novel form of outreach promises to help instill the value of open and equitable access to information across the state.”