February 2011 Report

Library Director’s Report-February 2011

As you know the public library community is furiously working to save State library funding. We were able to get the library funding back on the table and into the budget and believe that the strong bipartisan vote on our three items will certainly help to encourage the Governor to leave the $15.2 million in the Budget for these programs. The powerful 10 member Budget Conference Committee put their final mark on a massive reduction and revenues package, addressing the Governor’s plan to close a whopping $26 billion Budget deficit. One of their final actions was approving a “Conference Compromise” to spare the three library programs – the Public Library Foundation, the California Library Services Act, and the State literacy program, from elimination. You will recall that the Governor’s January Budget recommended complete elimination of $30.4 million for these three programs, which would also jeopardize millions in federal dollars associated with the CLSA. The Assembly Version of the Budget sought to spare the three programs from deep cuts, while the Senate initially agreed to accept the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the programs. When the Conference Committee met late February, they formally approved an action to keep the following dollar amounts in these three programs:

* $8.5 million in the California Library Services Act (at this funding level, also allows the State Library to maintain its federal MOE/match)

* $3.7 million in the California Library Literacy Services program

* $3 million in the Public Library Foundation

Recognizing the incredibly daunting deficit situation, there was an understanding by CLA that keeping the library program budgets whole would be nothing short of impossible, particularly when the Governor was proposing total elimination. As you can imagine, we worked tirelessly to get this compromise in front of all of the legislative leaders, Budget Conference Committee, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, staff and countless others.  Meanwhile, CLA members and library supporters continued to call and write their legislators, encouraging them to save the three library programs from elimination. This was a constant lobbying effort that ultimately resulted in a bi-partisan vote of the Budget Conference Committee today (a 5-0 vote of the Senate Conferees, and a 5-0 vote of the Assembly Conferees). This is an important footnote in that many of the items being voted on in the Conference Committee have received votes that are split along party-lines. We believe that the strong bipartisan vote on our three items will certainly help to encourage the Governor to leave the $15.2 million in the Budget for these programs.

Staff have been working to prepare the collections for our RFID conversion, a major technology initiative to help us be more effective and efficient. The Shores Library is 75% tagged and Downtown will begin mid-March. New self-check machines will be able to have customers pay their own fines and fees at the time of transaction, similar to Safeway’s checkout machines.

Another efficiency initiative, patron self registration, will begin on March 1st.. Customers will be able to fill out an application on-line at the library or from home and can be used to place holds on library items and have access to online resources. Staff will no longer have to input data into the system, only to verify.

Another possible efficiency savings is converting all overdue notices to email. Here is the current status of library card holders voluntarily using email notifications:


Library Total Patrons Patrons with Email Percentage of patrons with email
County 194,441 116,912 60%
Burlingame 31,083 19,847 64%
Daly City 64,575 34,697 54%
Menlo Park 33,827 24,013 71%
Redwood City 76,916 35,314 46%
San Bruno 27,745 14,256 51%
San Mateo City 77,522 42,037 54%
South San Francisco 40,218 19,953 50%
Colleges 7,261 5,085 70%

The Redwood City Library Foundation netted over $40,000 from the “We Love Children’s Books” fundraiser! Special thanks go to Foundation Director, Georgi La Berge and Event Chair Fran Eastman. Through their guidance, and with the help of talented staff and volunteers, the evening was a smashing success. The food was great, the venue warm and inviting, auction items were impressive, and the video captured the essence of why we do what we do. Each day we hear positive comments from individuals who either attended the fundraiser or heard about it. In round numbers, we brought in $23,000 in sponsorships and $18,000 at the event (silent/live auction and donations at the door). Thank you to all Foundation Board, City Council, Department Heads, Library Board and library staff for your tremendous support. The David B. and Edward C. Goodstein Foundation made a very significant monetary donation, and paid for nearly all the expenses of  the event, including catering, party rentals, flowers, decorations, auction basket prep and many hours of staff time. And of course, thank you Jim Hartnett!

On Saturday, February 5th, the Library in collaboration with Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, presented a college seminar, “With Scholarships We’ll Form a Better Future”, a presentation on college funding. More than 100 in attendance listened to our Vice-Mayor, Alicia Aguirre, who talked about the importance of college education; and Margie Carrington from Cañada College who gave a good explanation and information on scholarships and other funds available for college.

The first of the season’s Family Author Night in the Schools was a big success. One hundred and seventy students and their families from the Hoover School community came out to hear a bilingual presentation by author/illustrator Hector Viveros Lee. Two hundred and forty-five copies of Hector’s book, I Had a Hippopotamus, were given away to Hoover students who eagerly stood in line afterwards to have them signed by the real, live author. A favorite moment from that night: Hector pulled out his original drawings of the animals for his book, and a light bulb almost visibly went on over each kid’s head. “Wait a minute!” said one. “You mean you made this book?!” Making that connection is what Family Author Nights are all about. Family Author Nights is a powerful partnership between Redwood City schools and the Redwood City Library which has promoted books and reading to thousands of students and their families over the last three years, a good news story in these tough times! Funded thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Library, Family Author Nights will be held at six schools this year.

Youth services staff are gearing up for next month’s big event, The KinderCard SuperSaturday, an open house for all Redwood City kindergartners and their families. A library card application has gone out to each kindergartner, and librarians have begun visiting each classroom to hand out cards and invitations to the open house on March 12. SuperSaturday will feature a puppet show, balloon animals, games, and each child will leave with a free book to keep. A good, if chaotic, time is guaranteed for all.

We recently had a visit from one of “our kids”; a young man who spent so much time at the library from elementary school through high school that we feel we raised him. He’s now in college and came in looking for help on an assignment. Ivan was one of those kids we really liked, but at a certain point we just got to wishing we had a Teen Center to send him to. He felt the same way. So, after we finished working on the assignment, staff asked him if he’s seen the Teen Center yet. “What?! You finally got a Teen Center?” he said, running upstairs to take a look. He came back down looking very impressed.  “That’s exactly what we kept asking for all that time we were kids! We woulda loved that!” he said. I told him he was definitely one of the reasons it was built and I was glad he approved. “Oh, yeah!” he said. “It’s awesome. You should name it after me!”

February 2011, marks the 10th anniversary of the Traveling Storytime program at the Redwood City Public Library. Since it began, the volunteers have presented over 9,400 storytimes to more than 155,000 children. As a result of the program, the children of Redwood City enter kindergarten with a love of books and are eager and ready to learn to read!

With cuts of felt hearts and other crafts, The Fair Oaks Branch Library celebrated Valentine’s day On February, 10. 100 children and their families came to the library especially for this program.

On Saturday, 2/19, At least 50 people enjoyed Green Jazz, music and spoken word celebrating environmental justice themes presented by Tangria in the Fireplace Room.

You may remember a more fern-bar version of Tangria from the Redwood Shores opening. They are a very talented band in any incarnation

Another well attended program in the Fireplace Room this February:  Meet the Author –  Jessica O’Dwyer – Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir.  Many thanks to the author for generously waiving her honorarium, making it possible for us to extend our programming, with an additional author program in April.

Literacy and a love of reading are cornerstones of a quality education and positive youth development – and they are among the guiding purposes of the Redwood City Library Foundation. To help open the world of books to the youth of our community, the Foundation is launching its new Cards for Kids campaign to ensure that every 5th grade student in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks has a library card. During the next few months all 5th grade classes will be visited and new cards will be issued to each and every student. As an added bonus, any outstanding fines will be waived from students’ existing cards. Plus, kids will be excited about incentives and prizes that will be given out, including a special year-end celebration at the Downtown Library. This program is similar to the Library’s annual, and extremely successful, KinderCard campaign that provides library cards to all kindergarten students.

Project READ volunteer is another in a long line of Sequoia Award winners. In addition to her rigorous academic schedule, Hannah Hamley, of Sequioia High School, volunteers her time at numerous organizations. She was honored with this year’s prestigious Sequoia Award for devoted service to the community. “It’s such an honor to be recognized for something you’re so passionate about,” she said. As one of two top co-winners, she will receive a $10,000 scholarship at the March 17 banquet. She and fellow Sequoia Award winner, Claire Tweedy, started the organization, Gang Prevention Group, after their friend, Matthew Johnson, was murdered their sophomore year of high school.

“This organization is particularly personal because he was our friend,” Hamley said. “And death is a very hard thing to deal with.”  At Kids in Partnership, a program within Project READ, Redwood City’s literacy program, Hamley has been tutoring fifth grader Moises in everything from math to English since he was a third grader. After more than two years, Hamley said she has developed a special relationship with him, more like a guardian. Moises’ parents don’t speak English, so she fills in that role when Moises needs an adult figure to discuss his grades or test scores with his teacher. “Hannah was a natural at volunteering when she first began, then developed into a real mentor,” said Brigid Walsh, Tutor Coordinator for Project READ. Walsh said Moises decided he wanted to help out as a tutor because of his relationship with Hannah. “And beyond that, every child in the program knows Hannah because she’s so friendly and always willing to jump in when she can,” Walsh added. “We just love her.” Hamley is fluent in Spanish, having attended Adelante Immersion School, so communication with her tutee is natural. Hamley also humbly failed to mention in her interview with Patch that she was named “Tutor of the Year.” According to the Sequoia Awards Selection committee, Hamley won the Spirit of Project READ award, one of the highest recognitions the organization bestows. Yet Hamley insists she still has time to enjoy the simple teenage pleasures, like sushi dates, babysitting her three younger sisters and hanging out with her friends.

Project READ – February 2011 Accomplishments

Project READ -Family Literacy Instructional Center (FLIC):

This month was active for FLIC learners.  We welcomed two new community volunteers, as well as several new teen tutors. Several new families joined us this month as well, mostly from recommendations of current FLIC families, helping us build on our learning community.  We were also fortune to have received a generous handmade donation by our collaborative partner the Genesis Group. The Genesis Group, an adult developmental services program, volunteers with us each week. To help us with our monthly Story Hours, our volunteers made individual candies shaped like iPods for Valentine’s Day, so that we could hand them out to our families at Story Hour. This was such a surprise and treat for all of us!

Project READ – Families For Literacy – Story Hour:

This month was an especially exciting Story Hour for the close to 85 friends and families that attended. In addition to preparing Valentine’s Day crafts, our families rocked out alongside Cotton Candy Express, a local children’s band.  The families all joined along in song and dance; students were invited “on stage” to sing with a microphone or dance in front of the entire crowd. It was a memorable night for everyone. Additionally, Starbucks volunteered at the event and donated hot chocolate, and Second Harvest donated cookies. Hands on Bay Area (HOBA) volunteers were on board again this Story Hour to assist the children and parents in making crafts. With the help of many community volunteers, our Valentine’s Day Story Hour was a huge success and each of our families left with a beautifully illustrated hard bound children’s book to build their home library and encourage parents to practice their reading by reading the books to their little ones!

Project READ – Kids In Partnership (KIP) Story hour:

In February, the KIP story hour at the Fair Oaks Community Library drew over 65 KIP learners, tutors and families.  Everyone came out of the cold, wet weather to enjoy the musical storytelling of Anjaline and Mike Eppley.  Adults and children alike joined in the fun by singing, dancing and playing instruments. Each family received a beautiful, hardbound children’s literature newcomer, My Heart is Like a Zoo to take with them to add to their home library collection. This wonderful book also served as the inspiration for creative and thoughtful valentine crafts.

Notre Dame AmeriCorps:

Project READ’s Notre Dame AmeriCorps traveled to Washington DC in February for their annual conference and training. While they were away, Project READ staff continued with learning assessments.  We are thrilled to report that students continue to grow by an average of at least two reading levels since their previous assessment between 4 and 6 months of instruction!  During these assessments, students also have a chance to refine their own learning goals and give feedback on the program.  Below are some of their comments on what they like best about KIP:

  • “I like when we get to go to the big library and then go downstairs to look at books.”
  • “Playing games with tutors, like Mancala.”
  • “Snacks!” I am hungry sometimes.
  • “That the tutors give us all the stuff we need.”
  • “Being a tutor and helping my learner.”
  • “Art projects! I want to be an artist when I grow up. I do designs and then all of the kids in my group say, ‘whoa, how did you do that’?”
  • “I like everything.  Especially playing games like Apples to Apples.”
  • “When I’m with my buddy (Bibian) and my tutor (Lauren).”
  • “Being with all of the tutors that we have.”
  • “Going on the bus to the big library!”
  • “When Fatima helps me.”
  • “Using the jump ropes on the playground.”
  • “Going downstairs at the library to look at books.”
  • “Using the computers and getting books.”
  • “That my tutor helps me with my homework.”
  • “Reading books with my tutor.”

Kid In Partnership (KIP) Teen & Preteen Workshops:
In February, Project READ staff and AmeriCorps kicked off a pilot series of workshops designed to assist the teen tutors in creating an informational and heartfelt video about the experience of being a tutor in the KIP program. Teen and preteen tutors also continued to participate in on-going trainings and workshops.  These workshops, based on tutor feedback, are designed to refine tutoring skills, build social skills, and also help tutors reach their own academic and life goals.  This month’s topics included:

  • Typing/keyboarding skill building
  • Using Venn Diagrams to find similarities between me and my learner
  • Problem solving while tutoring role play practice

Project READ Adult Literacy Programs:

A young-adult learner, who was matched with a Project READ tutor for the first time in October, has completed Challengers 2, 3 and 4.  He is very excited to experience this skill level gain and has already noticed how much he is enjoying reading.  At the end of the month he and his tutor started Challenger 5.  Adult-Inmate – 4 Fathers and Family program inmate learners graduated from the Fathers and Families class, after completing 16 hours of classroom instruction.  All 4 men chose a book to send home to their child.  Project READ sent the books and CDs of the men reading their chosen book aloud.

12 men graduated from Project READ Tutor Training at the Maguire Correctional Facility, earning 1 unit of transferable college credit from Canada College.  For 9 of the men, this is their first college credit.  They now have transcripts for higher education.  They will not only start to tutor a peer inmate learner, but many will also start working to pass the GED or enroll in the college level vocabulary class offered by CSM and facilitated by Project READ and Cañada College at the two County Correctional Facilities in Redwood City.

The first day of the inmate peer tutor training, most of the men set the goal of speaking in front of a group.  They were able to achieve this goal at the ceremony.  During their graduation, all of the men had the opportunity to speak to a large group of their peers (40 men).  After having struggled all of his life in special education classes, one man was brought to tears by what he’d accomplished in the inmate tutor training class.  All of the men are eager to extend the “each one teach one” philosophy to their community – they said they were ready to start giving back!




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