The winner of the Jim Crawford Award for Innovation in Libraries has been announced as the Kingston District Council.  

The award celebrates innovative and inspiring services being delivered through South Australia’s public libraries. 

Announced at the South Australian 2024 LGA OGM and Conference, Council’s Literacy Without Barriers Program, which is run through the Kingston Community School Library, beat a field of 12 other high-quality initiatives submitted by local governments across the state. 

The program was developed to tackle declining early literacy levels and a lack of engagement with pre-school programs within the Kingston community, which was made worse by the pandemic. 

As the winner of the 2024 Jim Crawford Award, Kingston District Council will receive $10,000 to go toward further enhancing their library services, working with their local school in delivery of the school community library. 

South Australian LGA President, Mayor Dean Johnson, congratulated the council on its success and ingenuity in creating the program to address a crucial need within its community. 

“We know libraries are essential to South Australian communities – they’ve evolved far beyond being a place for borrowing books and today play a key role in fostering learning, providing access to technology, and offering diverse programs for people of all ages,” Mayor Johnson said. 

“School community libraries, which are unique to South Australia, allow communities in regional areas to have equality of access to library resources. 

“Their services provide an essential link to support the State Government in the delivery of foundational literacy programs in communities. 

“Early learning was significantly disrupted during the pandemic and Kingston District Council recognised this impact, acting swiftly to address it. 

“Now, through this innovative program, more children aged five and under in the Kingston area have access to a range of helpful learning materials to continue developing and help prepare them for entering the school system.” 

The Literacy Without Barriers Program involved the creation of book packs – containing stories, activities and guides for parents and carers to read with their pre-school aged children – and encourages vocabulary development and connecting text with the real world. 

The judging panel – which included Sue Crawford, the daughter of the late Jim Crawford after whom the Award is named – commented that the project has the potential to be replicated across the South Australian libraries network, benefitting communities right across the state. 

Kingston District Council Mayor, Jeff Pope, said that the Literacy Without Barriers Program had been incredibly well received since it started and that receiving this award was a huge honour. 

“Early learning is so important not just for children and families in Kingston, but across the wider state and the fact this program has been so well supported demonstrates this,” Mayor Pope said. 

“The community school library team have done a great job with this and other programs to make a difference to our young people and it’s an endorsement they can feel proud of. 

“Early learning is a focus for our community and aligns to our desire to see the proposed early learning and childcare centre become a reality. 

“We’re very proud to be presented this year’s Jim Crawford Award for Innovation in Libraries and hope our program can make a positive, lasting impact to other young children, families, libraries and communities across South Australia.” 

The Literacy Without Barriers Program was supported through a Local Government Early Childhood Community Innovation Grant, which was funded by the Office for the Early Years within the Department for Education and administered by the LGA for programs which support development in early childhood. 

Featured image: Public Libraries SA President Pepper Mickan (left) and LGA President Dean Johnson (right) present Kingston Community School Library representatives Jane Dicker and Kirsten Barich with the Jim Crawford Award at the LGA OGM and Conference. Image: Local Government Association of South Australia.  

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