July 2010 Report

Library Director’s Report- July 2010

The Library conducted a series of surveys at community events targeting families, young adults, adults, senior citizens, and other community members. In addition to in-person surveying, an online survey was sent to neighborhood associations, a local community college, city employees, community organizations and clubs, and more. The simple survey asked Redwood City community members what are the top three reasons they choose not to use the library and what improvements the library can make that will lead to increased library use. Survey results were then collated and analyzed by Library staff. The Library is now finalizing service responses, if possible, to this feedback. 85% of those surveyed said they already use our library! Total respondents found who stated they do not:

Online:        498

In person:   100

The top three reasons these folks don’t use the library

  1. Too busy, don’t have time
  2. Use the internet instead
  3. Other – mainly parking (downtown only)

Three most important improvements all customers would like to see

  1. Free Parking (downtown only)
  2. Expanded collection of books
  3. Café in the library (downtown)

In response to the parking issue from the above survey, and responding to customer feedback about lack of parking around the Downtown Library, staff implemented a quick parking survey, counting empty spaces in the two lots adjacent to the library, and the lot behind City Hall (really a short walk to the library). Counts were done for two weeks and at three times a day and/or evening. Except for two nights when we had big family programs, there were always spaces available at all three lots. We will continue to follow up on this. Attached is the survey.

With another month to go before it ends, this year’s Summer Reading Club and its offshoots have garnered almost 3,000 sign-ups. The reading, listening, parents, and baby clubs encourage children and their parents to make reading and/or listening to stories an integral part of their summer activities, a key indicator of school success. The Summer Reading Club was augmented by weekly programs at all four library sites during the month of July. Children and their families were feted to performances by musicians Cotton Candy Express, jugglers Carnival of Chaos, magician Phil Ackerly, and puppeteers Puppet Art Theatre. Between the four libraries a weekly average of over 450 children and parents attended the programs.

Canada College is interested in showing a series of documentaries at the library followed by discussion in the teen center. Some of the topics to be considered are: oil spills, food and nutrition, and undocumented youth.

Staff attended the Immigrant Youth Task Force (part of Redwood City 2020) at Sequoia High School and met with adults and teens who are interested in providing support for this population. They brainstormed ideas for the up-coming year and decided to screen the movie “Papers” (about the plight of undocumented youth) to raise funds for the Sequoia Dream Club which provides scholarships for immigrant youth.  In addition they plan to provide presentations for youth about resources and options in the community.

Changing lives, one life at a time. One youngster that has been in and out of trouble at school and the library for years arrived early one Sunday afternoon and asked if he could do “that shadow thing”, kids helping our teen center staff to create posters, art projects and other tasks for the teen center. He since returned regularly and has become extremely friendly and respectful to his peers and to staff. He often helps to clean up the trash left by his peers! The impact of caring adults has made a remarkable change in this youth’s behavior.

The library’s Customer Service Team is concentrating its efforts on working on Circulation policies and procedures. The team is identifying and working through policies as they relate the various aspects of customer service related interactions and will be working closely with the entire library staff to provide a customer service experience that strives for the highest level of consistency and customer satisfaction.

A great letter from a community member:

“Dear Redwood City children’s librarians, staff and volunteers,

The summer is unfortunately drawing to a close. I wanted to take the time to thank you all for playing such a prominent role in our daily summer fun. From story times to craft times to family programs and touchpoints (and let’s not forget reading to dogs!), not a week went by that we didn’t enjoy a fun, educational, and free event. In this economy and the budget cuts, I’m so glad you can offer these programs and sincerely hope they remain, as they are vital to our children and the community. Thank you for enriching our lives and our summer.”

Project READ highlights

This month we piloted a new, dual intervention summer program for our 1st-4th grade learners. With the help of our teen tutors, we were able offer a summer program for two hours each Monday. Modeled after our KidsInPartnership and youth programs, 26 students participated in learning-based stations, including reading, math, art and language arts. Each day was based around an individual theme that was incorporated into each learning segment to add context to their learning. Summer Family Learning Instructional Center was a collaboration of our youth programs, offering reinforcement of essential learning skills and concepts to our students from varied Redwood City public schools. The program also helped prepare our new first graders for the school year ahead, introducing them to new concepts and encouraging socialization and small group learning.

Additionally, both new and returning teen tutors took part in this pilot program. Sixteen of our Project READ teen tutors mentored our young learners through this program. It was a great experience for our tutors too, who all took active roles in their student’s learning, and engaged the students in reading, math and art-related activities. We had a diverse group of teen tutors, ranging from current and former Project READ learners, older siblings of current learners, and even children of both learners and tutors in our program. All 16 of our tutors met together to prepare for the program, and they were able to add important feedback and input into our curriculum.

Parents were invited to sit in during the first day of the program. And often parents came during the end of the day to watch our students and tutors during “Appreciations,” where everyone in the program joins a circle and shares what they appreciated or enjoyed during the day. It was extremely rewarding to be able to share these important moments with our families. Parents have already requested a space their children for next year, so we hope to be able to offer this program each summer to continue the learning cycle year-round.

Cassidy: Do home computers help kids learn?

By Mike Cassidy

Mercury News Columnist

Posted: 08/01/2010 12:01:00 AM PDT

Updated: 08/01/2010 05:44:07 AM PDT

If you’re looking for a reason to put your wallet away before buying your kid a home computer for the upcoming school year, two studies may give you the ammunition you need. (Sorry, kids.)

The research shows that having a computer at home does not necessarily raise students’ test scores, and that in some cases, especially in low-income households, it actually hurts scores.

When I read about the results in a New York Times column by San Jose State business professor Randall Stross, I was bummed. I’ve written before about the power of computers to change lives for the better.

Just last month, I wrote about a Santa Clara County program that helps parents cope with troublesome kids. After finishing the course, a few poor families were awarded recycled computers to take home. It seemed like a way to open up whole new worlds.

It would be stubbornly ignorant to disregard the new studies simply because they don’t fit my world view. But I’m not ready to embrace them as a reason to hold off on your kid’s computer (you can reach for that wallet again) or to discontinue philanthropic efforts to provide equal footing for families that can’t afford a computer of their own.

Instead, I see the studies as an important reminder that is especially important in Silicon Valley. It’s easy here in the land of technology to see computers as the solution to every problem, as a magic wand that can make the world a better place. Of course, that has never been the case.

Instead, the computer is just part of the answer. What goes with it — training, boundaries, support — is every bit as important to encouraging a student’s success.

“I think the easy conclusion on something like that is that you stick a powerful tool in somebody’s hand and it doesn’t mean squat until you let them know what to do with it,” says Rushton Hurley, of the Krause Center for Innovation, a Los Altos Hills institute that offers teachers technology training.

One of the two studies was conducted in North Carolina by two Duke University professors and can be found at www.caldercenter.org/upload/CALDERWorkingPaper_48.pdf. The other, done in Romania by researchers from the University of Chicago and Columbia University, is at www.columbia.edu/~cp2124/papers/computer.pdf.

The recent studies don’t unequivocally answer the question why — why do the test scores go down — but they do speculate.

And yes, the problem is Facebook. OK, not Facebook entirely, but if you have kids and computers, think about what they do with them. Sure, a term paper or two and maybe a PowerPoint for class. And then Facebook and Google chat and YouTube. Or maybe Facebook, Google chat, YouTube and then homework. Or maybe forget homework.

Which gets us back to the powerful tool that Hurley talks about. Putting the power in home computers comes down to what so much comes down to at home: parents and other caring adults. No question it’s become harder to monitor our children’s digital lives. As devices become more portable and numerous — 3G phones, iPods, iPads, notebooks, netbooks — where kids do what they do is more varied and distant.

But at home the computer can be literally right under our noses. We can demand that homework comes before Facebook and explain why the world has to work that way. Ideally, what we teach at home will inform the choices our children make when they are carrying out their digital lives away from home.

No doubt it can be a tougher task in households that are struggling financially. Often with financial stress comes other stresses. But maybe the same nonprofits that are helping put computers in the hands of poor kids can also help their parents with strategies to help their kids use their new tools wisely.

Date Time Parking Lot A

(across from City Hall)

# of empty spaces

Parking Lot B

(across from Milagros)

# of empty spaces

City Hall Parking Lot

(behind City Hall)

# of empty spaces

Tues         7/6/10 12:00  pm 33 17 67/11
Tues         7/6/10 3:00    pm 27 18 89/13
Tues         7/6/10 7:00    pm 14 5 15
Wed          7/7/10 12:00  pm 31 6 48/10
Wed          7/7/10 3:00    pm 26 13 82/8
Wed          7/7/10 7:00    pm 4 1 55
Thurs       7/8/10 12:00  pm 2 4 58/5
Thurs       7/8/10 3:00    pm 23 16 79/5
Thurs       7/8/10 7:00    pm 1 0 2
Fri             7/9/10 12:00  pm 42 16 82/9
Fri             7/9/10 3:00    pm 46 21 86
Sat         7/10/10 11:00  am 50 20 2
Sat         7/10/10 3:00    pm 56 27 60
Sun        7/11/10 11:00  am 88 36 81
Sun        7/11/10 3:00    pm 46 13 73
Mon       7/12/10 12:00  pm 22 24 80
Mon       7/12/10 3:00    pm 19 11 72
Mon       7/12/10 7:00    pm 55 7 55
Tues      7/13/10 12:00  pm 17 7 52
Tues      7/13/10 3:00    pm 2 18 81
Tues      7/13/10 7:00    pm 29 2 32
Wed       7/14/10 12:00  pm 20 0 40
Wed       7/14/10 3:00    pm
Wed       7/14/10 7:00    pm 6 0 0
Thurs    7/15/10 12:00  pm 25 10 35
Thurs    7/15/10 3:00    pm 20 15 75
Thurs    7/15/10 7:00    pm 4 0 25
Fri          7/16/10 12:00  pm 23 12 55
Fri          7/16/10 3:00    pm 26 10 80
Sat         7/17/10 11:00  am 70 20 87
Sat         7/17/10 3:00    pm 58 24 83
Sun        7/18/10 11:00  am 69 31 90
Sun        7/18/10 3:00    pm 62 16 81

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