May 2011 Report

Library Director’s Report- May 2011

 Why our Library, PRCS and PAL volunteer-based programs are so important! This is an excerpt from a piece in the Mercury News:

Making the decision to go to college can be difficult. Some students have been raised simply knowing they will go to college, while others struggle to figure out what they will do after high school. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, by 2025, only 32 percent of the state’s working-age adults will have a college degree. However, economic projections indicate that two of every five jobs (41 percent) will require a college degree. The challenges facing the California education system call for all stakeholders to lend their support. The education system cannot solve these problems alone. Each one of us has an opportunity to lend our skills and knowledge to become a mentor, coach, or volunteer to help get local students on the path to college. For the full article:

 The library is sponsoring two scholarships to deserving library teens who cannot afford the tuition for Fresh Takes, a new summer program, teaching digital arts to youth. Kids will learn how to tell a story with their videos and instruction will focus on experiencing the various disciplines of shooting, editing, writing and directing.

 Over one thousand different teens visited the Library Teen Center during this past school year! Although about 10% of these kids were regular users, it amazes me how many of our community’s teenagers have participated. We also had over 100 regular teen volunteers giving hundreds of volunteer hours, keeping the place decorated, planning programs, or helping with library tasks. Teens learned how to interact with one another and become friends with people of different ages and from different schools. They repeatedly tell us that they make friends at the center and how important it is to be in a place that is safe, away from gang influence. The Teen Center staff created a welcoming and safe atmosphere, using the CYDI principles that Library and PRCS have been working with, and teens feel they can rely on staff to not only help them with homework but to also help them with confidential problems. The trusting environment allowed one young man to express the stress he feels at home because of his abusive father. A recent graduate from Redwood High School was delighted when staff helped her plan out the classes she would need to take at San Mateo College in order to obtain an AA degree. Our teens help us plan services–when they asked for a course on learning how to budget their expenses, we designed one to fit their needs. The Teen Center, along with Project READ’s KIP program (with over 2,500 teen volunteer hours tutoring younger kids!) and other family services, has made a difference in our youth’s lives and futures.

 Our wonderful Library Foundation has raised over $120,000 for new books for the Fair Oaks Branch Library this past fiscal year which brings the total for the campaign to $160,000!

 The Redwood Shores Community Association will provide $2,500 in matching funds for the effort to raise $12,000 to pay off the outstanding balance on the piano that the Library is currently leasing for the Redwood Shores Library. With the addition of the grand piano, the Library’s Community Room has become a very active recital venue for local music teachers and their students. The piano can also be used for community events (such as Santa Comes to the Shores) and it will likely be used for small concerts at the Library.  Another benefit of having the piano at the Library is that it generates room and piano rental fees which have gone towards the monthly lease payments.

We will be installing new software and servers to be able to update all public computers from a central desktop instead of doing each of our 150 workstations individually. This will save hours of time. We are also migrating our staff computers to City IT support and management for more efficient use of our funds.

 In a successful collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department, the Library hosted over 150 students from five different after school programs. Parks and Rec arranged transportation, and the library provided library cards, booktalks, stories, a tour, lots of manic fun, and an excellent reminder of everything the library has to offer.

 Learn to speak pirate! In celebration of a certain movie (we love you Captain Jack) and in preparation for one of our favorite random holidays (International Talk like a Pirate Day is just around the corner) the library is offering a new Mango Language – Pirate! Pirate is bold, brazen, chock full of eccentric insults, and incredibly fun to speak. If that’s not enough reason to learn it, we’re offering this course for FREE now through June 30th! Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your parakeet… everybody loves Pirate. Then get your booty over to

Jobseekers and panelists participated in Redwood City’s first Employment Roundtable, sponsored by the Friends of Redwood City Library. The Employment Roundtable offered jobseekers an opportunity to meet Bay Area wide employers presenting on a panel. The employers represented a wide variety of industries and discussed their company, corporate culture, current/future career openings, and hiring processes. The mission of Phase2Careers is to assist the “Over 40” Worker in the Bay Area with finding new career opportunities through job search/career development workshops, networking/recruitment events, and special career presentations.

 In collaboration with the Peninsula Symphony, on May 7th , Quinteto Latino performed to a very enthusiastic audience at the library. Quinteto Latino is a group of five (¡cinco!) musicians who play classical and traditional music while explaining musical roots and musical instruments to kids. Several other presentations by other members of the Symphony are planned.

 Sure, teaching sign language to your baby can accelerate language acquisition, decrease frustration, build self-esteem, maybe even raise IQs, but most importantly, says sign language expert, Bill Austin-White, it strengthens the parent-child bond. Redwood City Public Library gave parents two opportunities to learn Baby Sign Language at both the Downtown Library and the Redwood Shores Branch. In all, over 100 participants (babies were slightly out-numbered by adults) attended the programs led by Austin-White. The adults learned about 50 words by repeating signs, playing games, and singing along. The babies just seemed to think it was a Meet-up. This introductory program leads into a class that folks can sign up for through PRCS.

 With the program at John Gill School on May 12, the 2011 Family Author Nights were concluded on a high note, Gill being the newest addition to the FAN lineup and bringing the total of schools reached to 7, up from 6 last year. This year brought author and illustrator Hector Viveros Lee to Hoover School, and local illustrator Elizabeth Gomez to the other six schools. As always, the presenters’ books were given away to students at each school to encourage attendance and literacy. The presentations are bilingual in order to reach parents as well as students, and to make it an event for the entire school community. It was especially wonderful to have Redwood City’s own Elizabeth Gomez present this year. She has a special gift for engaging both kids and adults. Showing slides of her own “very normal” life, she tells how she got there with the support of her father, who never went past second grade, and of her mother, who never went to school at all, because she was a girl. But both of her parents had such a commitment to education for their own children, Elizabeth continues, that not only did she and her four siblings finish college, but her mother went to school with them, too, all the way through a university degree. All thanks go to the Friends of the Library for their generous and enthusiastic support of Family Author Night in the Schools. They have enabled us to increase the impact of this pro-books, pro-literacy, pro-library outreach program from one pilot school in 2008 to seven schools this year.

 In what is becoming an annual event, several classes from Hoover made the trek to the Downtown Library in the last weeks before the end of school. One and all were instantly signed up for the Summer Reading Club and were introduced to Kitty, the gigantic stuffed tiger that will be one of the raffle prizes for kids who read 600 minutes this summer. Lost library cards were replaced and overdue fines forgiven, two of the biggest barriers preventing children from using the library.

 During the month of May, many Traveling Storytime volunteers have completed their year reading to the children in the preschools. It is always wonderful to hear about the children’s progress that the volunteers witness and the enthusiasm towards books and reading that the children demonstrate each and every week! May is also a time when a number of new volunteers are trained and placed in sites that have been on the waiting list. Traveling Storytime is now in its eleventh year. Over that time the program has presented over 9,600 storytimes and made more than 160,000 child contacts. The program continues to thrive thanks to the dedication of its loyal volunteers.

 The annual San Mateo County Reading Association’s Literacy Awards Dessert was held at the Redwood Shores Library. The Redwood City K-1 teachers received an award this year. Over 60 supporters of the Award recipients attended, and there were many, many compliments about the Redwood Shores Library.

 And finally our budget issues are solved! Check out this overdue bill….


 Project READ May Accomplishments


Project READ’s Adult & Family literacy programs

We received an email this month, in which a tutor offered a rave review of her experience: “I just wanted to say Thanks! For pairing me with [my learner.]  She’s such a super person.  When we first met, she was quite reserved, but after just a couple of months, she’s really opening up and not nearly as timid as earlier on.  She picks up on most things really quickly, and the things that don’t sink in right away she will ask questions about.  She’s also quite the self-starter. Thanks very much.  I really appreciate the thought that goes into a tutoring partnership.”

 Adult Inmate-Peer tutoring program
A 19-year-old learner who participated in one-on-one tutoring and the Poetry small group, increased 5 Bader Assessment (reading) levels in 3 months, quotes “I can say that the single most important thing I’ve learned since being in jail is how to express myself on paper.” With his new writing skills he has found a new non-violent way to express his feelings. Although he is native to the United States, he’s had virtually no schooling past elementary school. He was kicked out of several middle schools and went to one day of high school. All the while, he was being pushed through the juvenile justice system. After having participated in Project READ, he is confident in his reading and writing skills, and has spent a lot of time reading books and writing essays and poetry. I am confident he can successfully pass the GED test, which is his next goal.

 Two prisoners passed GED exams with high scores, one of whom is an FFL parent and current volunteers as peer tutor for Project READ. He works with a tutor and volunteers as a tutor for an emergent reader.

 A quote from a prisoner tutor about his peer learner: “[My learner] says that when writing personal letters, he is sounding out the words before he writes. He also read a book in its entirety and was really excited!”

 Project READ’s Family Literacy Instructional Center (FLIC)
This month the FLIC student’s prepared for the end of the year by working on a myriad of school projects from essays to dioramas—we even had a whole contingency of second graders who built lighthouses! Our lighthouse project was quite a group accomplishment. Many of our FLIC students are in the same grade or class. This year we had several second graders that needed to create their very own lighthouse based on a book they all read. Teachers, students and staff all came together to help out with this project. The students used donated, household materials to make environmentally friendly lighthouses. Our community tutors were so supportive and encouraging of the students; many of them came in additional days and volunteered additional hours just to ensure the projects were completed. The kids and adults were so proud of the results.

 Additionally, some of our third graders were working on diorama projects from books they had read and/or handpicked with their tutors. It was amazing to see the detail and effort both the student and tutors put into these unique book presentations. The projects reinforced the students’ comprehension of the books. When all the projects were complete, everyone in FLIC was excited to see the end results. It was a wonderful collaborative project.

 What has been tremendous to see over the past few months is the dedication the students and community tutors (both adults and teens) have given. Some of our students came in daily to research and write end of the year papers, often working with the same tutor on their projects. Such strong connections have been built this past month. Tutors and students alike have begun to check in with each other. Our community tutors and staff all waited for the students’ grades with as much anticipation as the students themselves. These are relationships that are life changing. And when Ashley, one of our 5th graders received 220 points out of a possible 200 on her State Report, everyone celebrated!! Congratulations to our learners and tutors for accomplishing so much together this past month!

 Families For Literacy (FFL)Story Hour
Over 55 friends and family came together for May’s Story Hour where families were all given a “No, David!” book. We also created three pre-literacy crafts based around the theme of No David. All crafts used household items that could be easily recreated at home. Twelve HOBA volunteers and several local Starbucks volunteers also helped us at the event. Starbucks even donated hot chocolate with whip cream to the families—an evening highlight. We also took part in a check presentation from the Starbucks grant we recently received. An exciting night for all!









Project READ’s Kids in Partnership program (KIP)

In May, 85 learners, teen and preteen tutors, parents and siblings participated in a celebratory bowling lesson and field trip at the local bowling alley. Many kids were excited to see that they had exceeded their best bowling score from last year!














As May came to a close, the KIP pairs had the opportunity to celebrate all of their hard work and accomplishments at our annual KIP Award Night! Over 175 students, tutors, and family members gathered at the Fair Oaks Cafeteria to celebrate the hard work and achievements of the KIP participants. Lori and RJ of Cotton Candy Express kicked the evening off with songs, dancing and musical instruments for all! Teen and preteen tutors presented each learner with a handmade, personalized award certificate highlighting their specific contributions and accomplishments during this KIP year. Likewise, staff presented each tutor with a custom-made award as a small token of our appreciation for their hard work and dedication. We also honored each of our AmeriCorps members with a bouquet of flowers thanking them for their tremendous work during this year of service!






 In May we also celebrated the accomplishments of our preteen tutors with a trip to the California Academy of Sciences.







These tutors were part of our Thursday KIP at the library. This supportive environment allowed the preteens and the newest KIP learners to get to know the library and the KIP program at their own pace and with the individualized attention of staff and AmeriCorps members. This year, over 50 youth participated in this program and below are some of the tutors’ reflections on their experiences:

“I’m very proud of my little learners. I’m also proud of myself for working with two learners.”

“One thing that I learned as a KIP tutor was to be patient, help little kids and talk to them kindly.”

“I’m proud that I can show little kids how to read and show them things like activities they’ve never done and then I get to see a HUGE smile!”

All in all, the KIP teen and preteen tutors contributed over 2500 hours of community service to the KIP program this school year! Our teens and preteens have become one of the most effective and important keys to the academic success of our little learners.


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