September 2010 Report

Library Director’s Report- September 2010

Stat of the month: last fiscal year we had over 750,000 uses of our computers at our four libraries—an increase of 100% from last year. Job seekers, students and others needing access to the internet topped the list of users. Not all of this increase is due to demand, we have added more computers this past fiscal year to try to keep up!

Maybe a no brainer how important libraries and books are, but by having great libraries, the City is an essential supporter of our kids educational success. In an unprecedented, near-exhaustive search uncovering 11,000 reports and analyzing 108 of the most relevant studies, children’s book lending (libraries) and ownership programs were shown to have positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes.

The study, “Giving Children Assess to Print Materials Improves Reading Performance” as commissioned by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and conducted by Learning Point Associates, a nonprofit education research and consulting organization and affiliate of American Institutes for Research (AIR).
The meta-analysis found that access to print materials:

  • Improves children’s reading performance. Findings from the rigorous studies suggest that providing children with print materials helps them read better. Among the studies reviewed, kindergarten students showed the biggest increase in reading performance.
  • Proves instrumental in helping children learn the basics of reading. Providing children with reading materials allows them to develop basic reading skills such as letter and word identification, phonemic awareness, and completion of sentences.
  • Causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time. Giving children print materials leads to more shared reading between parents and children. Children receiving books also read more frequently and for longer periods of time.
  • Produces improved attitudes toward reading and learning among children. Children with greater access to books and other print materials—through either borrowing books or receiving books to own—express more enjoyment of books, reading, and academics.

The takeaway for schools and educators is the message they present to parents and caregivers should be that it’s extremely important to provide their children with books, and to read with their children. It’s also extremely important to allow students to visit the library and check out as many books as they like.

Redwood City Libraries and the County Libraries will be participating in collecting donated food in lieu of paying overdue fines and hold fees. The program will run from Nov 15th to Dec 31st.  Partners include the San Mateo County Board of Supervisor Carole Groom and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Since school has resumed, it has been standing room only at the Downtown Library in afternoons and early evenings! With over 300 seats, this is pretty incredible. When resources allow, reducing the size of some of the bigger tables and increasing the number of tables, may be a wise thing.

Great story! A mom came into the Family Place with her three kids hoping to find a staff person who could listen to her son read aloud. Her son was having trouble with reading and his teacher had recommended he read aloud for 15 to 20 minutes each day. At home, he would not sit still to read and was very easily distracted, especially by his two younger siblings. One of our children’s librarians went to see if there was anyone in the Teen Space who might be interested in listening to this child read. After explaining the situation, including the caution: “he really doesn’t want to read aloud”, to several teens, one teen volunteered. In the Family Place, he met the family and helped the child pick out a few short books and he read to our teen without a squirm for almost half an hour. Long story short—our teen has arranged to meet with the child weekly at the library! This youngster is thrilled to be reading to this impromptu teenage mentor who is a senior at Sequoia High School, and is now earning community service hours. And Mom is ecstatic!

Another tale from staff: “The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time at the library. Kids flock back, running in excitedly to say hello to the librarians with hugs and high fives. The librarians in turn get to take in and comment on all the changes that have taken place over the summer: new teeth or lack thereof; new teachers to discuss; new books to share; and everybody is so much taller! It’s always a shock to the librarians when they realize that the kid who used to go to their storytime is now in 8th grade. But it’s always a good shock, reinforcing the ties we make with “our kids.” Besides, we librarians look just the same.

Speaking of ties, the youth services librarians have developed strong ties with their schools over the years. Kids know them when they go on campus. The younger ones yell their names, which makes them feel like rock stars, or sometimes just yell “Hey, Library!” Even the middle school kids make eye contact occasionally, a proud moment for any librarian. Parents feel confident visiting the library and asking questions. After a while, a librarian can start to feel a little, well, overexposed at some schools. Everybody’s heard the shtick. Can’t give away another library card  — everybody’s got one. But the good thing about schools is that the kids are an ever-renewing bunch. This was brought home the other night while attending a parent event at Hoover. Most of the parents had kindergarteners, brand-new to the school, and brand-new to the library. Thirty five new library cards were given out that night. And over and over again came the questions: “You can get that for free? “ “How many books can you check out? FIFTY?” “The library has that in Spanish?” “Free?” A powerful reminder of the power of libraries.”

One of Michael Vick’s dogs, rehabilitated and a star on Oprah, visited Fair Oaks Library as part of kids reading to dogs program. In case you missed it on TV check out Johnny Justice visiting Fair Oaks library.;photovideo

The reduction of operating hours at Schaberg Branch Library will take effect on October 11. Over 1,000 direct mailings to nearby households was done, informing residents of the change, along with information about services still being offered (homework center, storytimes) and nearby library information.

The state budget will not contain any cuts to the Public Library Foundation, the Transaction Based Reimbursement nor the literacy program. The Budget continues to fund all three of these programs at their current levels. This decision maintains approximately $300,000 in revenue to the City.

We owe a big thank you for our volunteer Friends of the Library. Through tireless donated book sorting and selling they have raised $61,000 to support this years’s adult and children’s programs, our summer reading club initiative, online homework help and our Family Author Nights. Their organization is such a win-win. Not only do they raise much needed funds for library programs, but through their bookstore, they get over 100,000 books into our community’s hands. Bravo!

We will begin a new service for our customers—online registration of library cards from work or home. This will allow use of our databases, download books, placement of holds of books or movies from home without having to come in initially to a library, but it also saves staff time doing data entry. New users in the library will enter their own information before going to staff for card issuance. Another new service we are trying is downloadable music titles, similar to iTunes.

Redwood City is scheduled to go live with RFID during this next calendar year. We are weeding the collection at all libraries so as not to spend money tagging outdated or worn items. Vendor selection is scheduled by the end of October.

We transferred a Youth Services Librarian to the Redwood Shores Branch Library this month to meet the demand of the huge amount of families and kids using the library. We have increased storytimes, outreach to schools and consulting services for teachers and parents. In the first week, three 5th grade classes from Sandpiper walked to the library, and were provided an introduction to the library, cards (though most kids had one!) and an overview for the 130 students. Also the Community Room was bursting with over 200 attendees enjoying the Red Panda Acrobats and the expanded weekly storytimes had 300 kids and parents the first week.

Project READ Report

Project READ’s Family Literacy Instructional Center is busier than ever, which is exciting to see. We have both new and returning families this school year. It is especially rewarding to see our youth learners now actually entering our pre-teen and teen tutor trainings, truly exemplifying the success and goals of our programs. In our September teen training we welcomed 13 new teen and preteen tutors. We also had a record high of 51 of our youth served in one day in our drop-in program. We have also been fortunate to have community tutors already matched with a leaner, volunteering extra time to help out in FLIC. For one FLIC family this allows our tutor, who works with an FFL father, to be able to get to know his children that are a part of our FLIC program. Now that school is back in full swing, our regular families and youth are here on a daily basis. Being part of this FLIC community allows students from different schools and background to work together on learning games, reading skills and collaborative activities. Parents and children have all really begun to pitch in and help during our busiest times, offering to read to help out with our youngest learners. We even have seen older siblings grabbing going ahead and reading to our younger siblings. This month our FLIC learners spent almost 1,000 hours working here at FLIC, a record month, logging in close to 300 hours of supplemental computer use.

At Project READ’s Families for Literacy (FFL) close to 90 families and friends attended our September Story Hour, helping our young ones celebrate the fall semester.  All the families brought home a family book, as well as self-selected books to build their home libraries. Families also took part in three pre-literacy crafts based around our school theme, which included making bookmarks, magnets to hold their important papers from school and homemade photo frames for their school pictures.  12 HOBA volunteers helped out with the crafts, and Chuck Ashton put on a memorable performance. It was a great night for our families!

Project READ’s Kids In Partnership (KIP): at the beginning of September we held a Back to KIP Night at Fair Oaks Elementary where staff assisted families with program paperwork and oriented them to the program calendar. Over 50 families enjoyed free books, snack and were relieved and happy to hear that KIP would be back at the library for the entire school year!

We welcomed two returning Notre Dame AmeriCorps members who will be assisting in both the youth and adult literacy programs. In addition, we trained three new Notre Dame AmeriCorps members. These recent college graduates have come from all over the country to give a year of service to the families of Redwood City.  KIP learners were eager to meet their new AmeriCorps tutors and over 40 of these elementary students welcomed them at our KIP Meet and Greet Events held at Fair Oaks Elementary.

In September, we also trained a total of 57 preteen and teen tutors in the KIP program. Each of these tutors was matched with a 1st-4th grader.  All of the pairs were thrilled to kick off the KIP school year and return to the “big” library!

This month at the KIP story hour, over 75 KIP learners, tutors and family members came together to enjoy an enchanted puppet performance by Nick Barrone.  The entertainment segment included a “behind-the-scenes” tour of the different puppets, including how the puppets were made and how the show was orchestrated by just one person!  Families then enjoyed receiving this month’s family book, and participating in several hands-on craft activities.

Project READ’s Tutor Training has had a busy month. 50 New matches were made and 43 new community tutors were trained!  We’re especially pleased that two of our new tutors are former learners in the program.  One is a high school youth who said, “I’m ready to give back after getting so much help when I was younger.”  Another former Project READ student dropped by to let us know that she has just graduated from college and attributes her success to the help she got from her Project READ tutor when she was in high school. We know we are making a difference when our former students, both adults and youth, have returned to become tutors themselves!

We also started a new Inmate Peer tutor training class at the Women’s County Correctional Facility in Redwood City this month.  The inmate tutors will be matched with a peer who has requested help with reading, writing and/or reading to the children.

Libraries launch apps to sync with iPod generation

By JEANNIE NUSS (AP) – Sep 29, 2010

GRANDVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio — Libraries are tweeting, texting and launching smart-phone apps as they try to keep up with the biblio-techs — a computer-savvy class of people who consider card catalogs as vintage as typewriters. And they seem to be pulling it off.

Since libraries started rebranding themselves for the iPod generation, thousands of music geeks have downloaded free songs from library websites. And with many more bookworms waiting months to check out wireless reading devices, libraries are shrugging off the notion that the Internet shelved them alongside dusty books.

“People tend to have this antiquated version of libraries, like there’s not much more inside than books and microfiche,” says Hiller Goodspeed, a 22-year-old graphic designer in Orlando, Fla., who uses the Orange County Library System’s iPhone app to discover foreign films.

The latest national data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services show that library visits and circulation climbed nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2008.

Since then, experts say, technology has continued to drive in-person visits, circulation and usage.

“It also brings people back to the library that might have left thinking that the library wasn’t relevant for them,” says Chris Tonjes, the information technology director at the public library in Washington, D.C.

Public library systems have provided free Internet access and lent movies and music for years. They have a good track record of syncing up with past technological advances, from vinyl to VHS.

“They’ve always had competition,” says Roger Levien, a strategy consultant in Stamford, Conn., who also serves as an American Library Association fellow. “Bookstores have existed in the past. I’m sure they will find ways to adapt.”

Now, the digital sphere is expanding: 82 percent of the nation’s more than 16,000 public libraries have Wi-Fi — up from 37 percent four years ago, according to the American Library Association.

Since the recession hit, more people are turning to libraries to surf the Web and try out digital gadgets.

In Princeton, N.J., 44 people are waiting to borrow Kindles, a wireless reading device. Roya Karimian, 32, flipped through the preloaded e-pages of “Little Women” after two months on the waiting list.

“I had already read it, but I wanted to experience reading it on the Kindle,” Karimian says.

A growing number of libraries are launching mobile websites and smart-phone applications, says Jason Griffey, author of “Mobile Technology and Libraries.” No one keeps tabs of exactly how many, but a recent iPhone app search showed more than a dozen public libraries.

The Grandview Heights Public Library in suburban Columbus, Ohio, spent $4,500 — a third of what the library spent on CDs — to give patrons access to songs by artists from Beyonce to Merle Haggard using a music-downloading service called Freegal.

Online services point to technology as a cheaper means to boost circulation.

The Cuyahoga County Public Library near Cleveland laid off 41 employees and cut back on hours after its budget shrank by $10 million. But it still maintains a Twitter account and texts patrons when items are about to become overdue.

As more libraries log on to social media, their lexicon is changing, replacing “Shh!” with “LOL.” In Florida, the Orange County library’s Twitter feed sounds more like a frat boy than a librarian: “There’s more to OCLS than just being really, really ridiculously good looking. We created an App!”

Crops of social networking sites are popping up specifically for bookworms — electronic or otherwise — and library junkies.

Jennifer Reeder, a 35-year-old mother of two in suburban Phoenix, tracks her reading stats on 12,431 pages so far this year — most of them in library books.

“When I was growing up, I always felt like a library was where I was supposed to go and like do homework,” Reeder says.

Now, it’s where she checks out audio books for her kids’ iPods and sates her addiction to iTunes with free downloads of songs by Pink and the cast of “Glee.”

Even the brick-and-mortar buildings are evolving, as libraries cater to a generation with smart phones stapled to their hands and music plugged into their ears.

Sleek study areas give off a coffee-shop vibe, while silence seekers are relegated to nooks. Self-checkout stations feel more like supermarkets, with patrons ringing up books and DVDs instead of boxes of cereal.

Libraries are designing new branches as hybrid technology centers — dedicating more space to computer labs and meeting rooms.

The Central Library in Seattle houses some 400 public computers — some of them clustered in rows with cafeteria-chic chairs, compared with 75 computers in the old building. The building opened in 2004 and looks more like Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, than the imposing stone or brick building that’s come to symbolize a library.

“The traditional function of a library, of being a place where people can come to get information, to learn, to relax, to kind of lose themselves in books, is going to continue,” says Tonjes, of the D.C. Public Library. “It’s just not going to be constrained by physical boundaries.”




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