August 2010 Report

Library Director’s Report- August 2010

Stat of the month: last fiscal year the Downtown Library had 698 reserved uses of our meeting rooms by community groups; the Shores Library had 747—for a total of 1,445. That averages out to 4.63 a day!

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Project READ donors, including donations from Employee Giving Campaign participants, over 400 backpacks filled with school supplies and 40 kiddie bags for our preschool age children were given out to our families. Students and parents continue to call and express their gratitude, explaining that if it had not been for Project READ and the continued support of dedicated contributors, their children would not have had a backpack or the necessary school supplies this year.

After 35 years as a children’s librarian, I am sad to say that Youth Services Manager, Chuck Ashton, has retired. The library’s exceptional service to Redwood City youth and families is directly attributable to Chuck’s leadership and passion for literacy. The Youth Services staff sent him off in style with an evening that was both celebratory and reflective (Chuck laughed, he cried). Over 200 people came by the festively decorated Family Place to wish Chuck well, including so many library staff members from times past that it was as much a reunion as a retirement party. Council members poured prosecco and read a Proclamation; there were speeches, remembrances, roasts, and a moving and respectful version of Yuck! A good time was had by all, most importantly by Chuck. The good news is that the Library Foundation will be hiring Chuck to continue with storytelling and other literacy programs for our youth.

We also lost another invaluable member of our team with the retirement of Shirley Schwoerer. Shirley worked for the Library for 35 years, in a variety of positions, but always with expertise, a commitment for service to our community and as a staff leader. More important, with Shirley’s and Chuck’s retirement, the organization has lost valuable institutional knowledge that cannot be replaced. Shirley writes in a note to staff: I just want to take a moment or two to express my gratitude for being able to spend the last 35 years working for such a great organization. We are usually striving so hard to make things better, we don’t often take time to value the good job we are doing and how well we’ve adapted to all the changes. Change is becoming the norm for us, and we are doing a good job with it even though it is often not easy. She does plan on volunteering in our Local History Room soon!

Over 3,500 kids and teens (and babies!) participated in this year’s Summer Reading Club, which encourages reading over the summer to help kids avoid the usual drop in reading skills that so often happens over a long break.

Bookstock, the annual Summer Reading Club celebration, was a success. Over 450 people basked in the sun and music at Courthouse Square. The event was also a chance for the public to say goodbye to Chuck, and many of his fans were there to sing “Yuck!” with him again. Yuck tee-shirts were on sale, and it was quite something to look out from the stage and behold a sea of yucks, happily singing along. The Friends of the Library had a banner day as well, selling over six hundred dollars worth of books. PRCS helped sponsor this event, setting up (and breaking down!) the canopies and tables, providing spin art and many other activities, blocking off the street, and managing the stage. It went very, very smoothly thanks to them, and to library staff and volunteers.

The Redwood City Library Foundation hosted a free Family Day cultural festival at the Fair Oaks Library. Jose-Luis Orozco, a nationally-recognized children’s author, educator, songwriter, performer, and recording artist, was the headliner along with dance performances by Ballet Folklorico viva Mexico. The Foundation hoped to bring attention to the wonderful resources provided to the community at the Fair Oaks Branch Library, and to the community support needed for increasing the Library’s collection to keep up with the dramatic increase in visitors and usage. Sponsors of the event included the Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission, Friends of the Library, the David B. and Edward C. Goodstein Foundation, and San Mateo Credit Union. The Fair Oaks Branch Library has been focusing on family literacy, supporting school success, and access to computers, and serves the predominantly Latino North Fair Oaks neighborhood. The Library serves four elementary schools where 94% of the students are designated as socioeconomically disadvantaged, and is one of the few public spaces in the neighborhood.

We are in the brainstorming phase of a major collaboration with Sequoia Audubon Society and Marine Science Institute. Sequoia Audubon recently received a large amount of money to be used for birding education. They are looking at providing classes and activities for kids and families in a number of locations over the next 2 years – including a number of programs in Spanish.

Sarah LaTorra is working with the Sequoia Union High School District to determine the most useful textbooks to have at the library to aid students with their homework. She is also speaking with the school librarians for a thorough list of titles. Sarah will purchase these textbooks so that we can help our students to complete their homework when they forget their books at school.

Cristina Thorson continued to strengthen ties between the library and schools by meeting with Hoover School’s new Family Coordinator. There was a productive brainstorming session with many ideas for collaborations and contributions.

Shores Library staff attended the “Family Fun Day” event at the Marketplace Shopping Center in Redwood Shores on Saturday, August 21. The library set up a display table with information, and staff had an opportunity to talk with residents and community members about upcoming library programs and events. Staff received many positive comments and remarks about the Redwood Shores Branch Library. Those that stopped by the table and showed their library card received a free library book bag.

Liz Meeks attended the grand opening of the new Redwood Shores Elementary School on Sunday, August 15. Teachers are anxious to bring their students on a field trip to the library.

The Homework Center at the Schaberg Branch Library served 87 students in the first 5 days of school.

Liz Meeks completed an eight session Public Sector Leadership Academy, which was offered in collaboration and partnership between local Cities and the County of San Mateo, with speakers being current and retired local City and County managers. The Academy provided participants an opportunity to hear the newest and most innovative concepts and practices from top leaders in the community.

Redwood Shores Branch Library staff members, Ray Delara, a Library Assistant, and Christine Carnevale, a Sr. Library Page, have both been accepted at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science. This month, they began their course studies towards a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree.

Project READ highlights

Project READ’s Kids in Partnership program students and families had many opportunities to celebrate this summer!  Many of our high school teens graduated from high school and are going on to college.  We wish them all well in their future endeavors! Meanwhile, the fifth graders also had their promotion ceremony as they bid farewell to Fair Oaks School.  One of our preteen tutors acted as the official translator for the event and another was awarded for his good school citizenship.

Over 55 KIP students, tutors and families came together at our monthly story hour to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer programs.  Families enjoyed the musical and interactive performance by the Cotton Candy Express duo, Lori and RJ.  They had everyone up and moving to celebrate the accomplishments of the year!  Participants also enjoyed thematic crafts and books to add to their home libraries.

KIP learners also had the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and library. Fifty-five students and tutors participated in an ice skating class and practice session at the Ice Oasis.  Later in the month, 58 students and tutors also visited the San Jose Tech Museum where they enjoyed interactive exhibits and a special I-MAX movie.

This summer 74 students, teen and preteen tutors participated in a new and improved KIP summer program that incorporated music, art and hands-on learning, all of which are vital for students’ learning and success. Lack of funding has made it impossible for schools to consistently offer art and music during the school day.  Likewise, field trips and hands on learning have been cut due to budget constraints and mandated test preparation.  Therefore, it was even more urgent that we continue these educational and enriching services so that students with these aptitudes can continue to learn and be successful.  We collaborated with professional musicians and artists to offer these vital programs during KIP!

During the summer KIP program, we also continued to offer educational field trips that allowed students to broaden their horizons, build background knowledge that can be applied to the classroom and apply what they have learned to the real world. Another exciting addition during the summer KIP program was an “Inland Voyage” presentation that was conducted through the Marine Science Institute.  These professionals not only presented an educational overview of marine life in the San Francisco Bay, but they actually brought a sampling of marine animals for the students to see, touch and explore. Learning literally came to life in their hands!

Project READ’s Family Literacy Instructional Center (FLIC)
August was a busy month because it meant back to school for so many of our learners. It is great to see FLIC filled with our learners and families again. We already can see such growth in our students. We have many students from the same schools and grades this year, so we were able to set up small groups for our young learners, where our teen tutors were able to lead. This has worked so well, as the students are able to learn from each other and validate each other’s opinions and success. The small groups also have given our teen tutors an opportunity to facilitate a group of students and foster team building.

Project READ hosts two “Back to School” family story hours!

Over 125 KIP students, tutors and families eagerly attended the Back to School Story Hour held at the Fair Oaks Library. Thanks to the incredible generosity of Project READ donors including donations from the Employee Giving Campaign participants, backpacks and kiddie bags for our preschool age children were given out to KIP families.

Our Families for Literacy August story hour at the Downtown Branch is always our most exciting because it is our “Back-to-School” event. In addition to a memorable performance by Chuck Ashton and creating back-to-school crafts such as bookmarks and backpack charms, we were able to give away backpacks and school supplies to each of our school-age students. The school supplies and backpacks were much needed for our students to begin the school year prepared. Over 170 learners and families took part in this amazing event. For our youngest learners, we even provided lunch bags and crayons to start off Pre-K. All of our families also went home with a family book, and other self-selected books to build their home libraries. We were fortunate to have both HOBA and Starbucks community volunteers, as well as some of our newest community tutors partake in this event.

Thank you to all who donated funds or volunteered their time to make all our back to school events for our Redwood City back pack and school supplies story hours such a success.  More than 400 of our most in need children excited and felt prepared for the new school year with the back packs and supplies to they needed.

Jobs and the Library

In one of many programs, PeninsulaWorks and the Library offered a workshop day for jobseekers at the Redwood City Downtown Library. Booths were set up in front of the library where volunteers offered one-on-one resume and interview advice throughout the day in English and Spanish, while in the community room workshops for resume building and interviewing skills were presented. Thanks go to Roz Kutler for coordinating these important programs. Below is an article from the Daily News.

The search for jobs on the Peninsula continues to be rough

By Kristen Marschall

Daily News Staff Writer

Posted: 09/02/2010 08:31:44 PM PDT

Updated: 09/03/2010 12:53:20 AM PDT

Career coach Joan Tabb held out her book and opened to a page with a cartoon roller coaster.

What’s the significance of the roller coaster when it comes to looking for a job, she asked a group of job-seekers Tuesday at the Redwood City Downtown Library.

“Because that’s what it feels like,” replied a woman in the audience.

For many unemployed Americans, each week comes with a cycle of resumes and interviews, high hopes and letdowns. But the statistics aren’t cheerful: Unemployment remains level and high.

The Peninsula is no exception to the state and national trends. The number of unemployed residents here in July was almost the same as it was a year ago and almost double the rate of two years ago.

Peninsula cities show a wider range of unemployment rates than the nation’s 9.5 percent and California’s 12.3 percent. For example, Los Altos had a 5.9 percent rate while East Palo Alto had a whopping 21.5 percent rate.

Regardless of the rates, residents say it’s a struggle to find work.

Alan, a San Mateo resident who declined to give his full name, was one of several people who attended Tabb’s job-seeking skills seminar on Tuesday night.

The former project manager for a San Mateo firm said he has been hunting for work since he was let go at the beginning of 2009 — an effort he can only describe as “frustrating.”

“Last year was abysmal,” he said. “This year, there’s been more activity in the sense that one gets more calls. But you feel like you have a lot of coals in the fire. … and then nothing pans out.”

He found brief success with a job offer from Cisco, but after signing the paperwork and waiting for the company to finish his background check, the offer was withdrawn when executives realized they didn’t have the money to support the position.

Alan works part-time in retail “to keep my sanity,” he said. But he’s getting paid “peanuts” compared to what he used to earn and the paycheck only covers his phone bill and gas expenses.

Tabb works with job-seekers like Alan on a regular basis in Great in 8 Coaching, a program named for its eight steps which she details in her new, self-published book “Great in 8: Job Seeking Skills.” She typically works with eight to 12 job-seekers. Tabb estimates that 50 to 60 percent of her clients are jobless.

Her clientele includes recent college graduates, people laid off from large companies and workers older than 45.

“I didn’t want to see it, but I have,” she said, adding that it often can take those people longer to find work since most come from middle management.

“Those jobs are going away and companies are getting rid of the layers,” Tabb said. “(Silicon Valley) is changing, and the people who are willing to learn new skills, they’re going to make it.”

Tabb is promoting her book and its ideas at San Mateo County libraries. Maria Kramer, Redwood City Public Library division manager, bought Tabb’s book on Tuesday to help library patrons.

“When you care for people in your community, you want your city to survive through this economy,” she said.

The downtown library’s 32 computers designated for adults are almost always filled with people looking for work, said Kramer, who estimated that many speak primarily Spanish and most are in their 40s and 50s.

Raj Chand, 46, is one of those regular patrons. He comes to the library to look for jobs while his 9-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter do their homework. In fact, his daughter saw a poster for Tabb’s seminar and recommended it to him.

Though Chand hasn’t found steady work since losing his job nearly two years ago as an assistant manager with HMSHost at San Francisco International Airport, he stays positive, finds work through temp agencies and volunteers his time doing IT support. Chand even had interviews where he was one of the top three candidates.

“It’s not the end of the road. You have to keep going,” he said. “The more active you are, the better.”

After Tabb’s speech, Alan felt better and went home with some new ideas for his search, such as confidence cards that list all the positive attributes he can bring to a job.

But after the past year and a half, Alan says most people — especially those with jobs — don’t know how rough the job search is these days with prospective employers demanding more.

“If they have 10 bulleted requirements, they want all 10,” Alan said. “It’s a square hole and you have to be a square peg with the exact dimensions to fit it.”


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