Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Ojibwe Board Book and Programs – Celebrating Language and Culture

A rough draft of the Ojibwe board book page dedicated to the four directions.

Got a great idea for a service or program that will reach the under-served in your community?

Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers Committee wants you!

Here is one of our “Light the Way” grant recipients reporting on their library’s project.  We hope their story will inspire you to submit innovative and meaningful proposals that will reach populations that may not otherwise have access to programming or services.


Hannah Buckland, Director of Library Services at Leech Lake Tribal College submitted the following summary:

The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” grant has made a substantial impact at the Bezhigoogahbow Library where staff work to develop early literacy outreach services through their Agindaasodaa! Youth Services Program.  Included in the new initiative are: weekly story times, outreach to Leech Lake Head Starts, distribution of children’s books to local family organizations, and the creation of a board book wholly written in the Ojibwe language.

Bezhigoogahbow Library—a joint-use academic and community library located on the Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) campus in northern Minnesota—serves all LLTC students, LLTC employees, and residents of the greater Leech Lake Nation.  The Leech Lake Nation, home to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, covers about 1,300 square miles of land and water, and Bezhigoogahbow Library is the only library dedicated to serving this entire area.  Because the library is located on tribal land, it is ineligible to receive city, county, or state funding and instead relies entirely on grants.

Agindaasodaa!  Poster

The library used a portion of the Light the Way funds to produce and share reading posters that encapsulate the Agindaasodaa! Program’s mission.


Per UNESCO classification, the Ojibwe language is “severely endangered”; by writing a book in Ojibwe, the library aims to contribute to local language revitalization initiatives, helping keep both language and culture alive.  Shortly after receiving the Light the Way grant, Bezhigoogahbow Library at Leech Lake Tribal College also received the ALSC Bookapalooza award of approximately 1,000 books for children ages birth through fourteen.  This generous gift of materials freed up all of the Light the Way grant to support the library in creating and sharing an Ojibwe language board book.


The process of creating this board book—tentatively titled Niiwin-which means four (tell us more!)—began in November 2016 following the library’s hiring of a new Youth Services Library Assistant, JR Robinson.  JR worked with fluent Ojibwe speakers, elders, and parents to arrive at the book’s content: With draft illustrations accompanied by Ojibwe labels, Niiwin explores different sets of 4—including symbols associated with the Medicine Wheel—so caregivers can simultaneously impart cultural values alongside early literacy skills and Ojibwe language.

A rough draft of the Ojibwe board book page dedicated to the four seasons.

Soon, the library will use remaining Light the Way funds to hire a local artist to create illustrations.

In another stroke of luck, a rough draft of Niiwin caught the attention of a well-known children’s publishing house, who is now working with library staff to make the publication a reality.  While a final draft of the book is not yet available, orders of 20 or more books are currently available for discounted pre-purchase.  For more information contact Hannah Buckland, Director of Library Services at Leech Lake Tribal College, at or 218-335-4240



The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant was formed in honor of Newbery Medalist and Geisel Honoree author Kate DiCamillo, and the themes represented in her books.  The award consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done. (Directly quoted from our “Light the Way” grant web-site)

The application process opens in October.


One comment

  1. Mary Dubbs

    What a great project & use of this grant! Thanks for sharing, Hannah! Would love to see the board book featured once it’s done.

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