The Morgantown Public Library System will official launching its Bird Watching Backpacks initiative, made possible through a partnership with Mountaineer Audubon, this Saturday.
Backpacks prepared for the program are packed with two sets of binoculars — one for adults, one for children — two guidebooks, and a variety of area trail maps. These backpacks are similar to library books in that they can be checked out at no cost for up to three weeks with no holds or renewals, and are designed with the whole family in mind.
The program is intended for children in grades K-5, but the entire family can participate in the initiative and get to know new feathered outdoor friends.
Saturday, the library will host an outdoor bird walk in conjunction with the library’s Summer Reading Program. Mountaineer Audubon members will lead a guided bird walk on the rail-trail. Through this event, participants can learn to identify birds and the art of birding.
The library and Mountaineer Audubon partnership was initiated when Charlotte Chung, a library clerk from the Cheat Area Public Library — one of the five branches of Morgantown’s library system — reached out to Hannah Clipp, president of the Mountaineer Audubon Association, about partnering with the library for its Summer Reading Program.
Clipp recommended the library start a birding backpack program for patrons. Clipp was aware that other libraries offered that resource.
MPLS Marketing Manager Corina Chang said a birding backpack program has been done before at other libraries but had never been done in Morgantown.
Chang said the library strives to not only be a safe space for the community and a resource for readers and learners, it also works to design experiences that spark curiosity regardless of age.
The birding backpack program is just one example of how MPLS tries to encourage entire families to get outside and experience the world around them.
“We understand that there are many learning styles and the launch of the birding backpacks with a bird walk … at the Core Arboretum is one of many ways we want to encourage these important and formative experiences for our patrons,” Chang said.
Birding backpacks can be picked up at any of the five library locations.
Participants, guides and library staff attending the bird walk will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Core Arboretum parking lot. Registration is required.