Staub: A legacy of Literacy

We are so proud of Shannon Staub, recipient of the 2016 Venice Gondolier Sun Community Leadership Award and founding president of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County.

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Staub: A legacy of Literacy

By STEVEN J. SMITH, Correspondent

Former Sarasota County Commissioner Shannon Staub always considered herself more a public servant than a politician and, even in retirement, she has continued that legacy by dedicating herself to children’s literacy programs and state-ofthe- art technology for area libraries.

Staub, 70, lives in Venice and served on the commission for 14 years until her retirement in 2010. Her proudest achievements include: her involvement with the Peace River Water Authority, which has secured and stored about six billion gallons of water for Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties; her role in creating the Sarasota National Cemetery for veterans; and helping initiate Students Taking Active Roles, a successful youth leadership program.

Staub is a recipient of the 2016Venice Gondolier SunCommunity Leadership Award. Since retiring, she has found a new passion — the Library Foundation for Sarasota County. The nonprofit organization, founded in 2012, has raised more than$900,000 for programs and endowments to increase public awareness of Sarasota County libraries, raise private funds for their support and serve as an advocate for issues affecting public libraries.

“I was always the library advocate when I was on the county commission,” she said. “And I was always trying to find a permanent source of revenue for the library system.”

Staub added the Library Foundation for Sarasota County does not replace tax dollars; it adds to them. Several years ago, the organization got a grant from the Selby Foundation that supplemented privatedonations to fund children’s literacy stations at eight area libraries.

“Those libraries have computers for kids aged 2 to 6,” she said. “Each has a colored keyboard and60 programs that teach everything from science to math to reading. They’re called Early Learning Literacy Stations. And we were able to insure that every library has at least two of them for children.”

Springing from that effort came a new one, in which the Library Foundation took over the local incarnation of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For $25 a year,enrolled children up to the age of 5 get one book a month in the mail. Currently 500 area kids are enrolled in the program; the foundation’s goal is to reach 1,000.

“In the first three yearsof life, that’s when the brain develops the most,” Staub said. “So if you can get picture books into a child’s hands then, it really sets them up for success.”

Finally, the Library Foundation has initiated a project called Telepresence — a high-level video technology that can facilitate everything from inter-county meetings to intercontinental conferencing events.

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