February 2012 Report

Library Director’s Report- February 2012

The library’s December 2011 Food for Fines program cleared less accounts than last year, but received twice the amount of food for our local food bank. It has been proven, and last year’s statistics seem to bear this out, that if we can clear those library accounts that have dissuaded folks from using our libraries, and to get those library users back into the fold, that it not only increases use by those who really need our services, but also increases revenue. We cleared 865 accounts in four weeks and collected close to 15,000 pounds of food, enough to feed 600 families for a week.

With their latest fundraiser, the Library Foundation reached their goal of raising $200,000 dollars for new children’s books for the Fair Oaks Branch Library. The Foundation is committed to helping raise the reading levels of youth and to support the library in helping our kids succeed in school, and they have focused on a branch library that serves the neediest families in the city. The Fundraiser was a great event—everyone had a great time, the kids were precious and the library has never looked better!

Project READ has a blog! Check in to read about current events, learner successes, tutor’s stories, and our programs. http://www.projectreadrwc.blogspot.com/

Sometimes we underestimate what teens in our community are thinking. It was wonderful and inspirational to hear from our 24 new teen tutors on what motivated them to mentor younger kids in the KIP program. Some responses included:

            “I want to be a KIP tutor because I enjoy being around kids and helping them with new things.”

            “To give children opportunities that I didn’t have.”

            “Because I love working with kids and helping them learn.”

            “I want to be able to say I made a positive impact on somebody’s life.”

            “I have always babysat, but never had the opportunity to teach. I would really like to gain the skills of working as a teacher/tutor.”

And this from our Teen Center staff:

“Two of our teens said they wanted better grades in school when asked what their New Years Resolution was. She asked them today how they were doing and they said that all their grades were now either A’s or B’s (before they were failing)!”

 “One of our regulars, who has been flunking high school and has had some severe behavior issues, came in today, and I asked him how his school was going. He said that it’s going good and that he will graduate in June! So I asked him what he was going to do after.  He was thinking about CanadaCollege. I encouraged him to go and gave him a website to use to pick which teachers are good called ratemyprofessor.com. I went over some details about how he can pick his classes and take as many as he wants and went over general requirements and major classes briefly. I told him to make a counselor appointment and/or go on the school website and look around and do some research. We talked for about 10 min and he left, but before he left he said thank you. I said it wasn’t a problem and was happy to help, and told him if he needed anything, either help with picking classes or making appointments or just advice, to come in for help. He seemed really excited and his face lit up because I don’t think many people have taken their time to help him or even encourage him to do something positive. I on the other hand felt great to help him, because we all know how he used to act and now it seems like he is straightening up.”

An innovative program that supports literacy and youth in our community is our Family Author Nights in the schools, funded by the Friends of the Library. Last month, two programs at Fair Oaks and Hoover schools brought 600 kids and parents to an evening presentation by an author. Three hundred copies of the presenter’s books were given away at each school to students. Teachers at each school were great about promoting the programs by sharing the presenter’s books with their students and often doing art projects connected with the books – a plus in schools were art programs are non-existent. One of the best parts about Family Author Nights is that it connects schools and city services with the community, by bringing in parents and families to the evening event. Another plus is seeing the light dawn on kid’s faces as they make the connection between the books they’ve liked and the guy standing at the front of the auditorium. “You mean he wrote this book?!” is an often heard cry. Yup, real people write books. Another best part is when parents bring their kids to the library after the programs. “I saw you at my school!” is another oft-heard cry, and that’s when you know a connection has been made with the city.

VM Ware project is moving out of the pilot phase and into implementation. Remember this pretty exciting initiative (for an IT project that is) will replace stand-a-lone computers with a thin client that has no moving parts and has all software and operating system on a central client. This will save staff time in troubleshooting (just have to reboot to get original desktop/configuration back) and installing updates (only on server); it will also save replacement costs as these computers have no moving parts and will last longer.

Self-Service Initiative is moving along. We have reached 95% self sufficiency in customer self-service checkouts of materials at the Downtown and Shores libraries. Since conversion to our new system, this percentage is up 25% and 15% respectively. Schaberg is at 75%; andFair Oaks is around 50% which is to be expected with so many new users who are new to technology. Next is the installation of the self-check in systems.

We have doubled the bandwidth for internet access, both wired and wireless at the Downtown Library in response to complaints about speed. We will monitor to see how this is working. It may be like adding lanes to a freeway—doesn’t fix the traffic jams. We have also tried bandwidth priority programs that choose what has higher importance (e.g.: catalog request vs. movie download) and letting those pass through first.

 The Library: Most Romantic Place in Town

Here’s a brief recounting of something that actually occurred at our Downtown Library last month. This story illustrates how our Library is such an integral part of the lives of many in our community. Thank you Cristina Thorson, Youth Services Librarian, for this!

By eight at night on Valentine’s Day things had really quieted down at the library (except for the rockin’ music booming from the Community Room for Project Read’s FFL program). Suddenly, a couple in their early thirties appeared in theFamily Place. They were obviously out for a Valentine’s Day night on the town. She was dressed in a bright red dress and red heels and was carrying two red roses; he had a red rose in the button hole of his suit.

“Um, Happy Valentine’s Day,” said the surprised librarian.

“We just went out for dinner across the street,” said the woman, “and I knew we just had to come to the library because it’s such a romantic place!”

Both the librarian and the man looked skeptical at this declaration, but the woman would have none of it. She remembered coming as a kid, and she remembered all the books she had read and loved, and started naming them. The librarian ran around and found them all.

“So,” the woman asked the librarian, “what do you think is the most romantic book in the children’s section?”

“Um…” said the librarian, completely stumped until thinking of the original Shrek, by William Steig. Ogre meets ogre. Totally romantic.

The couple then sat on the pouf and the woman started sharing the books with her date. Pretty soon, he had started reading to her. He was looking a lot less skeptical about the library’s being a place for romance.

They stayed until closing, when they asked the librarian to take their picture, posed against a stack of books and holding their favorites in their hands. And as they left, they gave the librarian one of the red roses.

The new Spanish storytime Mondays at 10:30 has transcended its original role and has become a Spanish immersion program for adults! Not only is the program drawing 60 or more, but also there are four regulars – all grown-ups – who now attend without any kids in tow just so they can hear and learn español. There are the two ladies from India, mother and daughter, who saw the storytime listed on our schedule, decided to drop by and keep on coming. There is also the Irish couple, recently moved to Redwood City, who started coming with their next-door neighbor and her children and now come on their own to sign songs and learn colors. All the grown-ups stay after stories to do the craft projects, too. Hey, that’s part of the fun. The Irish folks plan to bring another adult neighbor with them next week, someone else who wants to hear Spanish and meet Spanish speakers. It’s the bright side of the Law of Unintended Consequences!

The Traveling Storytime program had its winter giveaway of books, all funded thanks to the Friends. Traveling Storytime volunteer readers gave out 1,250 books to the children they read to every week. The volunteers love this as much as the kids do. One volunteer noticed the teacher at the school where he reads with tears streaming down her face. She was responding to the joy on the faces of her students when they realized that they actually got to keep the books the volunteer was giving them.

A group of 5th, 6th and 7th graders at Northstar Academy were introduced to the databases, catalog, Brainfuse online homework help and other good stuff at the library and came in a few days later for hands-on contact. Their teachers were blown away by everything the library has to offer, including classroom library cards that offer remote access at school for each student at the same time. More importantly, there were students who actually described the databases and services – and even the library itself – as cool, and several of them who even declared that they had “liked” us on Facebook!

Our new eBook classes to help folks use their devices with the library’s collection of eBooks have been very successful.

Project READ Redwood City February 2012

Accomplishments

Project READ’s Kids in Partnership Program (KIP) – Teen Tutor Recruitment and Training

In February, Project READ staff and AmeriCorps members collaborated with Sequoia High School teachers to conduct on-campus recruitment. Staff visited the campus and held an informational table during lunch and then did several in-class presentations to potential teen tutors. We were thrilled when current and past tutors enhanced the presentations by adding their own heartfelt enthusiasm for the KIP program! In just one afternoon, more than 45 teens expressed interest in tutoring and getting more involved in their community!  What great youth we have in Redwood City!

Teens meeting their learners on Valentine’s Day…

Love was truly in the air on Valentine’s Day when 42 elementary students met their new or returning teen tutor! The Family Literacy Center was abuzz as 84 KIP youth worked together to write and deliver valentines and notes of appreciation to one another and program staff.

KIP Story Hour

In February 65 students, tutors and families enjoyed our monthly KIP story hour at the Fair Oaks Community Library.  Puppeteer, Nick Barrone, mesmerized the crowd with his puppet and storytelling art. The audience especially enjoyed the “behind the scenes” tour of the one-man show with countless puppets and special effects! Families also liked receiving The Hello Goodbye Window written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka. Families also created several valentines and a healthy snack, granola, that’s good for the heart!

This month, KIP was honored to be chosen as a service site for San Jose State University’s Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Society. These dedicated volunteers not only helped with set up and clean up, but also really brought the interactive crafts to life for many of our KIP students and families. We appreciate their support and hope to continue working with them in the future!

Intergenerational Literacy

Project READ integrates parent and youth services to expand learning within families as highlighted in this example from one of our AmeriCorps tutors.

Toward the end of her biweekly tutoring session, an adult learner, Margarita, presented me with a list of words that her five-year-old daughter was currently learning in her kindergarten class. Margarita asked me to go over the pronunciation of the words with her so that she could support her daughter at home. After working on pronunciation, we incorporated the words into our next tutoring session by creating a memory game using the list of sight words as well as recent vocabulary words from tutoring sessions. After playing the game several times together, Margarita took the cards home to play with her daughter. Through enhancing her own skills, Margarita was able to support her daughter’s progress in the way she had always hoped to be able to do!

Project READ’s Adult-Inmate Families Program
An adult who once participated in the inmate program now has a new job that requires him to read.  He has improved 4 levels in 6 months and came to the program non-literate. His tutor mentioned that “he is starting to feel comfortable reading in front of students in his classes.”  During his reassessment the learner said to the Student Tutor Coordinator, “I want to thank you for taking time to talk to me.  Keep doing your job.  I believe you are a person with a beautiful heart to help others.  So thank you.”

This month we were able to match 3 newly trained tutors with 3 new learners from our community program waiting.

We also were able to make the following matches and complete small group instructions for inmates as follows:

6 new tutors trained at men’s jail
6 men completed Fathers class were able to read a book on tape and then sent the tape and book home to their children
5 Adult-inmate learners passed GED exams!!
5 women at the Women’s Transitional Facility completed resume writing, job application, and mock interview workshops. They now have resumes for the first time in their lives! These women are gaining skills to help them transition back to community life successfully after their release.

Project READ is awarded a RAFT GRANT

We’ve had an exciting month at Project READ’s Families Literacy Instructional Center (FLIC) this February. RAFT granted Project READ five Flip video cameras that are being used in our Family Literacy Instructional center, as well playing an integral part of our teen movie and animation project, led by KIP teens. These teen tutors are learning how to use the video cameras to capture the excitement of their learners as they work with the teen tutors at FLIC and other projects going on in Project READ. They are also learning other creative ways to integrate technology into learning. The cameras provide a creative outlet for our teen students and a new form of learning. We hope to capture the amazing projects, learners and events going on at Project READ with this generous gift. Look to our blog for future videos and updates.

Junior League Valentine Reading Group with Project READ’s FLIC learners

This month we had a special reading group with our community partner, the Junior League—a Valentine’s Day Read Aloud. FLIC students joined Project READ trained Junior League tutors in reading a Valentine’s Day book aloud together, and then working on a craft. All students were able to bring home a beautiful new hard cover book, given as a gift from the Junior League, as well as enjoy a special treat of cookies and juice. Our regular monthly Reading Group is modeled after our Family Story.

Project READ receives a Taproot service grant

Project READ has been awarded a Service Grant from the Taproot Foundation that will help us create a new marketing and recruitment brochure. The service grant is valued at $45,000. Our goal is to continue to raise literacy awareness within our community and recruit new tutors to meet the literacy needs of our community and invite donors to share in the Project READ experience. We were honored to be recognized by such an amazing organization and look forward to working with Taproot volunteers and staff on our project.

Project READ Families for Literacy (FFL) Story Hour

Over 85 family and friends gathered together at our monthly Story Hour this month at the Main Library. Cotton Candy Express, the award-winning children’s band helped us celebrate Valentine’s Day with music and dancing. Each family received a hard cover copy of the Hello Goodbye Window, our monthly family book to bring home and add to their family library. Students worked along side of parents and Hands on Bay Area (HOBA) volunteers to create pre-literacy crafts made from household and recycled materials. It was a great night for our families and volunteers alike!

 Bring Me A Book Grant awarded to Project READ

Bring Me a Book, and award winning nonprofit that is committed to bringing high quality books to children in our community, partnered with Project READ. The nonprofit generously awarded our families over 250 new children’s books.

Family Spotlight: The Castro Family

Each month Loretta Farris, one our of our community tutors, interviews a family, tutors and youth learners who meet in FLIC and then shares one of their stories through our blog. Below is an excerpt from this month’s family spotlight.

 As I approach the Castro family, they are all concentrating on their various activities in the Project READ tutoring center (FLIC). Rebecca is teaching Karen, her youngest daughter the sounds of the alphabet using brightly colored magnetic letters. Michele, her middle daughter, is focused on doing her homework. Abril, her eldest daughter, is working with her tutor Marie just a few tables away.

Rebecca has been involved with Project READ for over six years. She was the first in her family to receive tutoring sessions in order to improve her reading and writing skills. Rebecca says “the staff is really nice. I don’t speak English well and they helped me with my reading and writing also. I like all of them, and I really feel confident speaking with them.” She currently works with Sarah, her tutor, once a week mainly focusing on grammar and math. She wanted to describe Sarah to me but felt the words nice and patient didn’t adequately define her, so I suggested she look up the word nice in a thesaurus. Beaming with certainty she exclaimed, “Sarah is friendly, kindly, lovely and polite.”

Over the years, the Castro family has benefitted from the various programs offered by Project READ. They have improved their reading skills and developed confidence during the process. They have made lasting friendships with the staff, their peers and tutors. It definitely is a family affair when it comes to the lovely Castro clan and Project READ.  

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