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Adult New Readers, adult literacy programs and Public Libraries

Colleagues,

Di Baycich wrote in a recent discussion here: One searchable database of books on a wide variety of topics and at varying reading levels is available at http://literacy.kent.edu/eureka/tradebooks/index.html These books are available for free in your local public library. (Boldface added by me.)

We don't have a LINCS library CoP, so this CoP might be the most suitable for a discussion of adult new readers and public libraries. I am interested in learning about adult literacy programs and libraries, partnerships adult literacy programs have with libraries, and in our thinking together about how these partnerships could be expanded or strengthened.

First, some good news for those who wonder if libraries will exist, if millenials will use libraries, and who may be interested in adult literacy and libraries:

  • According to a Pew Research study published last summer, http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/06/25/younger-americans-library-services "younger Americans’ library usage reflect a blend of traditional and technological services. Americans under age 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library, and once there they borrow print books and browse the shelves at similar rates. Large majorities of those under age 30 say it is  “very important” for libraries to have librarians as well as books for borrowing, and relatively few think that libraries should automate most library services, move most services online, or move print books out of public areas."
  • According to a column in the Saturday, November 23rd Boston Globe, by Renee Loth, "Soaring new public libraries have gone up in Seattle, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City" and the  Johnson wing of the Boston Public Library's "trunk" (if there are branches, the main library probably should be called the trunk) will soon be getting some needed renovation.
  • A national partnership of a public library in Syracuse, New York, the American Library Association and ProLiteracy will in a few weeks publish a library literacy action agenda, designed to help libraries -- and their community literacy stakeholder partners -- to develop and expand library and community adult literacy efforts.

And now some questions which I hope you will answer here, in this CoP:

  1. Do your students use libraries?
  2. If so, for what purposes? What services? How often do they use them?
  3. How do you know? Do you survey them? If so, do you have a survey form you could share with us?
  4. Do you teach your students about public libraries? If so, how? Does a librarian come to your program? Do you take students to the public library? Do you go to the library web site?
  5. Does your program have a partnership with a local public library? If so, can you tell us about it?
  6. What do you/your students like about your public library?
  7. What literacy-related public library services would you like to see expand, improve, or be added?

I am eager to hear your replies, and I hope we can have a good discussion here about libraries and adult literacy.

 

David J. Rosen

Djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Comments

DMellard's picture
One hundred

David,

Thank you for directing our discussion to libraries and our learners' access to the community library.

The questions you posed have an important focus. For those community of practice members who are starting or revising their programs, the library resources could become a particularly valuable partner.

Regards,

Daryl

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Colleagues,

Over 50 people have viewed the message I posted on libraries. So far, the only reply to any of my questions is Daryl's. I really would like to hear what adult literacy practitioners think about/are doing with libraries. Does lack of response mean that you are not doing anything with libraries? Or does it mean that you are just not reading the messages from this CoP? Or something else?  Please let us know.

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

What I know: We recently had a request from a library for a list of "adult education material" and we are currently working with them on the kinds of materials they are interested in. When I talk to teachers about using authentic texts and the Eureka! book database I always tell them that public librarians are eager to partner with them and I often see the lightbulb going on over people's heads.

 

What I will do: I can send a request out to teachers in Ohio to respond to the library questions. If they respond to me directly, I'll post their answers here. I will of course encourage them to join our COP. Hopefully we can keep the conversation going.

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Thanks Di,

That would be great if you could send out a request to adult ed teachers in Ohio to respond to the library questions. Perhaps there are people in other states who could reach teachers in their state this way, too.

I am thinking that we may see a resurgance of interest in collaboration of libraries and adult literacy programs. Libraries have so much to offer adult learners, and adult literacy education programs' learners are a perfect group of underserved people who could become library users/patrons/customers. Working together, libraries and adult education programs may be able to accomplish more than they can separately. Let's see what we learn from responses to these questions.

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

Here's another response:

Answers to questions;
1.        Yes, the library at the facility and the local public library through a staff member who visits and brings back requested materials.
2.        The library is used mostly for leisure reading and writing reports on recovery.  We also borrow some videos.
3.        The facility library is in my classroom.  Another educator does the public library run once a week.
4.        We do not allow students to use the internet.  All of our students are incarcerated.  Many would misuse the internet.  There are eight counties represented at the facility so we do not involve all the public libraries in the eight county area.
5.        The partnership with the local library is only our personal library cards we use to borrow materials.
6.        Many students talk about the use of their local libraries for internet services and borrowing videos.
7.        I would like to see a new GED preparation program be available in the local libraries as well as new GED materials for self study.
 

Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

Here's another response from a teacher in Ohio:

1. Do your students use libraries? Yes
2. If so, for what purposes? Class assignments, to help their children, to borrow DVDs How often do they use them? Some use them weekly, others rarely.
3. How do you know? Do you survey them? If so, do you have a survey form youcould share with us? I don't have a survey form. I just ask.
4. Do you teach your students about public libraries? We physically take our students to the library at least twice a year and help them get library cards. If so, how? Does a
librarian come to your program? Do you take students to the public library?
Do you go to the library web site?  I show them the website and some have learned how to use it.
5. Does your program have a partnership with a local public library? If so,
can you tell us about it? Our GED registration is housed at the library and they send us ESOL students if they ask about us. They also will give library tours.
6. What do you/your students like about your public library? I love that all the materials are free and that it's the great equalizer. Any person can go there and learn/take advantage of the materials. I'm a strong proponent of the library to my advance ESOL students.
7. What literacy-related public library services would you like to see
expand, improve, or be added? I'd like to see more foreign language based materials. My students miss not being able to read books in their native tongue.

Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

So far I have received 2 replies from Ohio and one from Pennsylvania which I have pasted below. If I get more, I'll add them.

We use our public library quiet frequently. In our class, we do a lesson "Going to the Library", in which we discuss and teach the process involved in getting a libray card and how to use our local library. . Most of our students do not come  from countries with access to free public libraries, so it is a new concept for them, but they really like the opportunity to use the library free.            

             I encourage them to use it for themselves and their children. We tell them to start with very simple easy to understand books on tapes. This is a valuable tool not only to improve reading, pronunciation and spelling but also to increase the love of books.

Students with better language skills use a variety of reading materials and  the skill builder books to practice college entrance exams and other tests. They also use the Learning express.com which is an on line library portal for test preparations.

                  Our students also take advantage of the free computer classes offered at our local library. The library staff are always willing to have extra volunteers to work with low skilled students.We also partner with READ for L.I.F.E to provide one-on -one tutoring for our students.

                We  check the monthly library calender on- line, and inform students to check out the activities offered for both adults and children. Most certainly enjoy the large collection of movies and music.

Anita

 

I'll answer as I can:

1. Do your students use libraries?

yes, some of them

2. If so, for what purposes? What services? How often do they use them?

They use the internet.  Typically, no more than once a week.

3. How do you know? Do you survey them? If so, do you have a survey form you
could share with us?

I just ask in free time.

4. Do you teach your students about public libraries? If so, how? Does a
librarian come to your program? Do you take students to the public library?

My students are adults and know about libraries from their own countries or from what they've heard.  If I need to explain anything, I show them on-line -virtual tour, if I can.

Do you go to the library web site?

often

5. Does your program have a partnership with a local public library? If so,
can you tell us about it?

6. What do you/your students like about your public library?

free internet access, 

access to "the Learning library" -wonderful program!

7. What literacy-related public library services would you like to see
expand, improve, or be added?

more internet access

Vilvi

 

Some of our students use the public library. Usually it is for the purpose of taking out books for their children in our Family Literacy Program but as for the Adult Literacy Program I do not know for sure. We have only surveyed our Family Literacy Program.

We have talked about public libraries to our Adult Literacy Students through class lessons and flyers up in our center. That is all the information I have about our students using the public library. I wish I could be more helpful.

Thank you,

Bridget

Karisa Tashjian's picture
First

David,

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to highlight our activities in Rhode Island.  I'm happy to report that my organization, RIFLI, celebrated its 15th birthday this week, and started and remains as a partnership of libraries that offer adult literacy classes and services.  The libraries on their own can't meet the demand or have the time or resources to individually offer these type of literacy programs so through RIFLI (hosted by the Providence Public Library and primarily funded by the Rhode Island Department of Education), we are able to hire and train teachers and volunteers, raise funds, teach and assess students, etc...all the usual activities an adult literacy agency does and we do it in five public library systems.  I think it's a very efficient model as well.  I have to say that our library partnership is stronger than ever.

Being in libraries, the recruitment of students is very easy.  All of our students take library tours, get library cards and are encouraged to be active users of the materials as well as programs such as the free computer classes.  We advise the libraries heavily on which adult education materials to buy for students and practitioners.  Students acquire a high level of comfort being in the library for our classes that leads them to engage in all that libraries offer.  At one library in Cranston, the partnership is so strong that while the library is closed to the public two nights a week, they open it up to us and we have ESL and citizenship classes along with a Family Literacy class for the children of our students.

In recent years, RIFLI has become not only our partner libraries' "expert" on adult literacy but also for workforce development (and in some cases digital literacy) - librarians really like being able to direct patrons to our services.  We have also expanded from offering all levels of ESL to now offering classes for high school completion and college transitions. Thanks to a recent grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), we are exploring and documenting models of co-locating adult literacy, workforce development, digital literacy and disability services in libraries.

I'd love to hear if others have similar models.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Karisa Tashjian, Director, RIFLI

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hi Karisa, and others,

Thanks for your reply and for this very encouraging information. Congratulations on the RIFLI 15th anniversary! I wonder if you -- and others -- have links to lists of what adult education materials public libraries might purchase. These links might be useful in the resource section of the Library Literacy Action Agenda that I mentioned in an earlier post.

You wrote that "At one library in Cranston, the partnership is so strong that while the library is closed to the public two nights a week, they open it up to us and we have ESL and citizenship classes along with a Family Literacy class for the children of our students." That is extraordinary and wonderful. It is certainly an indication of a strong community collaboration between adult education programs and libraries.

You mentioned the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). I am familiar with this wonderful organization, but I suspect many readers here are not. As you know, IMLS has funded the Learner Web, a national adult learner-focused blended learning model, and also the Library Literacy Action Agenda project that I mentioned. I see them as a great asset to libraries and adult literacy.

I hope your reply spurs others to tell us about their collaborations, or other ways in which adult literacy needs are addresses in their community through the help of libraries.

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

Sandra Darling's picture
First

I love that getting a library card is given importance in the setting of goals for Massachusetts ABE students. I have seen teachers and advisors think of it as an easy goal.

I want this goal to be MORE COMPLICATED. I want ABE students to bring their children to storyhours and sign them up for summer reading programs. I want them to use the computers to apply for jobs. If their community library does not have a literacy area and resources, I want students to be able to find books that they can read, learn from, and enjoy.

A few years ago I did a Network workshop on “Adult Learners at the Library”. The newest bibliography is a continuation of that information.

http://www.sabes.org/resources/bib/bib-libraries-learners.pdf

Sandra Darling
SABES Literacy Library
Massachusetts

DMellard's picture
One hundred

Sandra,

Thank you for the bibliography that you mentioned.

As this thread of dicussion demonstrates, our libraries are a wonderful and yet under-utilized resource in our adult education and literacy programs. I realize that I might be taking us on a tangent, but I  wonder if programs have developed cooperative agreements or other examples of formalized shared resources? Such agreements might be helpful to formalizing a relationship among agencies that would support adult learners, and perhaps, family literacy activities.

Regards,

Darylj

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Daryl and others,

I talked with a librarian last week who has followed library literacy for some time as a national consultant to libraries. She said that in the last couple of years she has noticed an important trend in public libraries, that many more are now interested in expanding their mission to include education of low-literate adults in a wide range of ways. One way is evidenced through the cooperative agreements you mentioned, Daryl. I, too, would be interested in knowing where these exist and, if possible, seeing examples of the agreements.

Other ways, of course, include:

  • Collections that meet the needs of low-literacy adults, for example, the high interest/low reading skill (Hi/L0) collections that some libraries have
  • Librarians who visit adult literacy classes to introduce the local library, followed by a visit of the class to the library that includes an introduction to a range of library services, and getting a public library card
  • Library literacy or ESL/ESOL programs offered in the library
  • Basic literacy instruction offered in the library by volunteer tutors, often one-on-one, and sometimes in small groups
  • Library computer labs that can be scheduled by literacy programs to expand students'access to computers and the Internet
  • Local literacy coalitions that include library representatives, sometimes with meetings held at the library
  • Collaborations of libraries and adult literacy programs to offer digital literacy, literacy tutoring services or classes in the library, funded by collaborative grant proposals
  • Family literacy project collaborations

What other ways do you know of? Do you know of good examples of any of these ways?

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

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