December 2010 Report

Library Director’s Report- December 2010

One Tuesday evening, a family of five came into the library. Speaking only Spanish, the father of the family explained that they were in the library for the first time and asked, rather hesitantly, about getting himself a library card. He was surprised to learn that not only are cards free, but that everyone in the family could get one. “How many books do you think you can borrow with a library card at one time?” the librarian asked the 7 year old. “Two?” the kid responded hopefully. “No,” said the librarian solemnly. “You can get 50 at one time.” Excited, but slightly dubious, looks were exchanged. The excitement mounted upon learning about all the other things they could get with a library card, not to mention all the great free programs, including the Homework Center. The librarian decided that this was the perfect time for a grand tour and led the family through the children’s area and all the Spanish materials and computers, up to the second floor and the Spanish collection for adults. By the time they left, with handshakes all around, every member of the family had his or her own library card, and the kids were piled down with books, books, books. They have since been sighted at programs. They’ve become library fans and library users.

The Food for Fines program, in collaboration with San Mateo County Library and Second Harvest Food Bank, was a great success. We heard from numerous community members how wonderful a program like this is, and kudos to the City for sponsoring it. $14,000 in fines were waived, 1,000 accounts cleared and over 8,000 lbs of food was collected! 80% of the fines were from those users who had delinquent cards because of overdue fines; they were not paying on their account and were not using the library. This program provided food for the needy, community goodwill towards the city, and allowed more card holders to use the library.

With the generous support from the Library Foundation, the Library will initiate a Library Card campaign for all 5th grade students in the city. This will be similar to our annual, and very successful, KinderCard campaign. We have found out that 5th grade is a crucial benchmark for kids to decide to stay positively involved in school, libraries and community.

Another collaboration between the Library and PRCS – Children’s Story Time in the Park Series – a free story time series in a new park setting each week during the summer. This is a chance to discover new parks in the city while enjoying great stories. Locations include Stafford Park, Stulsaft Park, Mezes Park, Maddux Park, Shorebird Park, Garrett Park, Dove Beeger and Westwood Park.

The Santa at the Library program, held at the Redwood Shores Branch, was a wonderful community event and gathering with approximately 1,500 people in attendance!  This year, the Library collaborated with the Redwood Shores Community Association in sponsoring and hosting the event. Storytimes by a local children’s author, Christmas carols played on the grand piano by a local student, and children keeping busy as they waited at the coloring tables, creating their pieces of “art”. And of course, the guest of honor, Santa, visited with the children in attendance.

Following his triumph at Redwood Shores, Santa Claus returned to the Schaberg, Downtown, and Fair Oaks Libraries. 1,000 children sat on Santa’s lap, told Santa their Christmas dreams, and had their pictures taken for posterity. Keep in mind that each of these children was accompanied by at least one parent, and often by an entourage, and our libraries must have hosted well over 3,000 people over the two days. And Fair Oaks is still picking the glue out of their carpet to prove it. All hail library staff for pulling it off with festive aplomb, and lots of patience and good cheer. And (spoiler alert if you believe in Santa) I know everyone joins me in hoping that our amazing Santa, Cliff Keith, recovers in time for the holidays. Talk about patience. At one point, staff suggested that he speed things up since he was about to go overtime and the line was still long. “No,” he said. “Santa doesn’t hurry.”

San Mateo County’s support program for teen mothers, regularly includes visits to the library by the moms and their kids, introducing moms to the library and its offerings. They get a storytime, a library card and a goodie bag with a free book for each child. Unfortunately, budget cuts in the county have put an end to these visits, but because we feel this is an important program, our staff went to them! We provided the entertainment at the program’s Christmas party, which was attended by at least 125 people. It’s is always a festive scene, with food, games, and gifts for the kids. Sadly, we learned that because of county budget cuts, this will be the last Christmas party. The library and the heroic county health nurses have vowed to stay in touch and provide whatever library services we can to this crucial population.

Streamlining and efficiencies are an ongoing initiative. All libraries in the county are working on agreeing to consistent policies and procedures for easier customer service processes. This includes new software for customer self-registration of library cards. All libraries in the Bay Area and Monterey Bay Area are now part of the new Pacific Library Partnership. Benefits include better pricing leverage, shared information, training and programs. We are still part of our JPA, the Peninsula Library System, for shared system software/catalog and delivery service. 3M has been chosen as our RFID vendor, and tagging the collection will begin in January. This new model of material handling will be much more efficient, increase theft protection and enhance customer service.

We have two new collections at our libraries. MP3 audio books, also known as playaways, are a self-contained audio book player–all you need is a battery and headphones. Since this is a trial collection, we are starting with a small number of items. We also are providing downloadable music tracks from the Sony catalog. Freegal is an online database that provides access to songs from Sony Music’s catalog of artists.  Each library card holder may download three songs per week in the MP3 format. One may browse using genre and artist lists or search for a particular artist. Play the file in a program such as iTunes or Windows Media Player. The file will not expire.

Downloadable books, audio books, music and movies are not only the future, but will also lower the operating costs of doing business. Libraries are struggling to get the industry’s attention to create service models that fit the “borrowing” role (instead of the “buying” role), and improvement is incremental though steady. Redwood City is committed to these new technologies.

Project READ’s Kids in Partnership Program (KIP) at the Library

  • Over 115 youth participated in KIP at the Library in December even though school was winding down. Tutor-learner pairs worked on homework, reading, English language and also practiced using the many library resources together.
  • KIP teen tutors participated in a tour and question/answer session tailored to their specific needs at De Anza College. The tour and information session was created and conducted as a service-learning project by the campus student group, Project LEAD. These college students shared the stories of their own academic journeys including how to overcome obstacles such as learning disabilities, being the first in the family to attend college, and finding financial resources and scholarships.  After the visit, one teen commented, “Wow. I never really thought about going to College, but now I would totally consider going there.”

Adult and Families for Literacy (FFL) Programs

  • Project READ kicked-off another Book Club in the Adult-Inmate program. Twelve men are participating and have chosen to read Tuesdays with Morrie. Participants are intermediate level readers. For most, this is their first time being involved with something like this. Several in the small group are FFL fathers.
  • Also in the Adult-Inmate program, two men passed a GED exam. Both scored over 500. Another man completed Challenger 3 an adult literacy workbook in 1.5 months! After writing his first poem this month with his tutor, a leaner has been writing a poem or journal entry every day since. He stated with enthusiasm, “I’ve been writing!  I love writing now! I’m going to keep doing it!” He was sure he couldn’t succeed, now he is sure he will and change his life in the process.

Family Literacy Instructional Center (FLIC)

  • Many FLIC parents attended parent/teacher conferences this month, and many of our students got their progress reports and report cards. Several of our parents and youth have come into our office these past few weeks to share their successes in school, and some even asked to make copies of their report cards, so that they could share them with us. Two of our parents came in the last week to thank us and tell us firsthand about their children’s progress both academically and socially. We are extremely proud of both our learners and our tutors for working so hard together throughout the year.
  • It is equally as rewarding to be able to see whole families working together at FLIC and helping each other build their skills and confidence. Last week one of our teen tutors worked with several of our younger learners at FLIC. When they had finished their homework and reading they decided to play a word-building game, where you match illustrations with the corresponding words. In this game each person has a chance to read words aloud. This game was the catalyst for encouraging one of our young learners to read aloud in English for the first time all year. She was so excited by the game and how engaged others were by her, she stood proudly and read each word to the whole group. The kids were enjoying themselves so much that their father joined and began to play the word game alongside our young learners and our teen tutor. This positive collaboration truly exemplifies the mission of FLIC.
  • Despite the holiday break, our learners still logged in many hours at FLIC, 700 hours at the center and 200 hours in the computer lab.

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