New Library Attracts UC's Youngest Scholars

A new library at the University of Cincinnati will be used by the youngest scholars on campus – so young, in fact, that the three-to-five-year-olds are just beginning to learn about the joy of reading. The Susan Cacini Children’s Library honors the memory of a UC early childhood educator and builds on the the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center’s commitment to teaching, service and research in early childhood education. The dedication was held June 12 in the Susan Cacini Children’s Library, Room 1114, One Edwards Center, the location of the Arlitt Center.

The walls of the library are a soft yellow, a sunny, inviting place with a round table and chairs built for preschoolers. Large, plush pillows are on the floor against one mirrored wall, where the children can comfortably curl up with their favorite picture book. “Here are some soft, stuffed animals for them to hold while they’re reading, in case they want to cuddle, and here’s a sofa where children can sit next to their teacher as they listen to a story,” says Louise Phillips, Arlitt disability/mental health coordinator. “Every detail of this room was planned over and over again.” Phillips says books will reflect diversity while developing each child’s love of literacy.

“We dedicate this library to the memory of a beloved colleague, teacher and friend,” says Phillips. “I can’t say there’s a staff member here that has not been touched in a special way by Susan, and this library is a very positive way to continue the educational mission she so strongly embraced. Her classroom was a warm and loving place that was comfortable for all who entered, and learning was supported and extended through the use of quality children’s literature. There was always a shelf of books for children and a special smile for every child.”

Susan Cacini was a graduate of the UC early childhood program and prior to her position at the Arlitt Center, she was the director of two preschools, one in Western Hills and a second in Over-The-Rhine. She worked at the Arlitt Center for 10 years, first teaching in a classroom shared with Phillips. “I was the morning teacher and she was the afternoon teacher. Then, I became disability/mental health coordinator and she became the education health coordinator, so our jobs were still intertwined. The two of us were very close.”

Phillips says her friend’s dedication to educating little children never wavered, and she continued to work even as she battled cancer. Now, nearly one year after her death, the Cacini family and other Arlitt supporters are continuing to support her life’s work. So far, nearly $5,000 has been donated to the Susan Cacini Memorial Fund from friends, Arlitt staff and the Cincinnati community. Daughter Marta, a UC senior in the College of Business Administration, works at the Arlitt center, providing office support. Daughter Abby, who’s completing her freshman year in the College of Business Administration, works in an Arlitt classroom. Another daughter, Carla, is a physical therapist in Cincinnati, and Susan Cacini’s, husband, William is professor and chair of the UC Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Future books for the library will be considered by an Arlitt selection committee. Some of the pictures for the library are autographed illustrations from books that were donated to the center by authors and publishers. The most recent contribution was a mobile of blackbirds created by internationally recognized author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, reflecting his newest book, Beautiful Blackbird.

Contributions to the Susan Cacini Children’s Library can be addressed to the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center, University of Cincinnati, One Edwards Center, P.O. Box 210105, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221-0105.

 

 

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