October 2011 Report

Library Director’s Report- October 2011

Sadly, Yvonne Chen, Redwood City Public Library Director from 1995-2003, passed away last month. We owe a lot to Yvonne for setting the stage for our library’s transformation, and for securing the state grant for the Redwood Shores Branch Library.

Lupita Vega, Michelle Acosta, Elizabeth Padilla and Veronica and Karina Nuñez-Chacon had the whole theater cheering at Project READ’s annual Trivia BEE on October 14th, as they received the Spirit of Project READ Award for their outstanding service. Below is a description of their amazing and continued contribution to Project READ and the KIP program:

Each of these young women started their association with Project READ as elementary students in our programs. They were such curious and eager children who always came to tutoring sessions ready to learn. Upon entering high school, all five became KIP tutors in order to help and mentor youngFair Oaksstudents, as a way to give back to their community and show appreciation for the support they had received. These outstanding young ladies not only tutor in KIP, but they also excel in their academic studies. Because of their hard work, both in the community and in high school, they are all looking forward to attending college in the fall. They are not only an inspiration to us all, but a joy and hope for our future.

I gave a short presentation to City Council about our innovative approach to challenges the library faces: thriving not just surviving; managing a diverse group of volunteers; and making a difference in the reading proficiency of our youth. See the video at http://www.redwoodcity.org/government/council/meetings.html

At the end of this report are indicators from the 10-11 fiscal year. The library’s performance was very favorable compared to other libraries.

The marketing committee of the Library Board has created a tagline and boilerplate for use on posters, flyers, correspondence, emails, etc. Malcolm will use the boilerplate to end his press releases and other media-related items.

Connecting Community through Literacy and Learning


The Redwood City Public Library inspires learning through innovative and visionary programming and services—literacy programs, support for school success, access to technology, safe, inviting spaces for youth and families, and gathering places that connect the members of the community with a love of reading and learning.

 All staff gathered to attend training on safety and dealing with problem customers. This was a good first step in identifying further training sessions as needed.

The Youth Agenda team has taken on a new active partner: Redwood City 2020. We have reinvented what we are doing and are continuing to move aggressively forward to deliver effective youth services. We have new goals which will hopefully be adopted as part of the Redwood City 2020 agenda and will be the basis for a community coordinated effort. We have also adopted indicators that are quantitative measures of our success. We are striving to go beyond coordination and embrace collaboration, sharing goals, resources and responsibility to “move the needle” on indicators that tell us our youth are thriving. Our adopted goals and key indicators of success are:

  • Children, youth and families are safe
  • Children, youth and families sense of safety (City survey, other after-school program data)
  • Children, youth and families are healthy
  • Children’s physical fitness (RWCSchool Districtphysical fitness tests in 5th and 7th grades)
  • Children and youth are succeeding in school and preparing for responsible adulthood
  • Children reading at grade level by 3rd grade; reduction of chronic absenteeism (RWCSchool District data)

We have submitted a Letter of Intent to Apply for a 2012 All-America City Award. By submitting this letter, our community is eligible for training and technical assistance to develop a plan to move the needle on third-grade reading success. A grant application for additional resources will follow. Our collaborative work over the past 20 years places us in a unique position to continue and enhance our efforts to address the areas of school readiness, chronic absence, and summer learning.

Redwood City Library is partnering with the San Jose Museum of Art to provide a series of classes for teens. Project Read and theTeenCenter selected 20 teens to participate. The teens are able to try different art forms and will visit the museum for a personal tour.

The library was represented at the Olive Festival and the PortFest.

Guests sang along and moved in time to the music as gifted young pianists played old favorites at a September afternoon tea to honor Library Foundation donors. The event, held in the community room of the Redwood Shores Library, paid tribute to supporters making contributions to library collections and programs for five or more years. Guests were served mini sandwiches, sweets and varieties of tea, followed by a short program of music and guest comments.  Rouslana Yaroslavsky, co-president of the Foundation, spoke about the positive impact the Redwood Shores Library has had on her family and the Redwood Shores neighborhood. 

In keeping with a space travel theme, charter members of the Foundation’s Benefactors’ Circle were recognized as “stars” at a reception in October at the Fox Theatre inRedwood City.  During the festive evening, guests enjoyed a reception, followed by a presentation in the auditorium by author Mary Roach speaking on her latest book, “Packing for Mars.” A handsome plaque in the shape of an open book listing the names of the 40 charter members of the Benefactors’ Circle was unveiled at the reception. The names represent those who joined during the Circle’s initial years (2009 and 2010). Circle member donate $1,000 or more annually to the Foundation. The plaque will hang in the lobby of the Downtown Library.

There is more going on than meets the eye at many of our programs. A weekly craft program is only in its second month, already a huge success, with regular attendance of anywhere from 65 to 70 people each week. The craft program has quickly become not just something that provides kids with the benefits of using their hands and motor skills plus creativity to make something they are proud to take home, which is most certainly does. It has also become a wonderful family program, with parents – both moms and dads – helping their kids with the craft du jour, and many times begging for the materials to make the craft themselves. It’s also a regular Berlitz class, with primarily English speaking kids being encouraged by their folks to practice their Spanish, and for Spanish speaking parents to practice their English, and non-native English or Spanish speakers getting exposure to both languages! It is a very cool thing to see all these diverse members of our community mix it up over glue and scissors. Many attendees have become regulars, and many bring their friends and neighbors, too. The program is so popular that is has attracted two regular volunteers who add their skills and patience to the scene. And it is a scene! To experience theFamily Place at its most lively, drop by any Tuesday afternoon between 3:30 and 5:00. You will likely find yourself unable to reside diving in and making the craft yourself!

The library hosted four parenting workshops presented by theParents Place of thePeninsula. These were very informative talks on “Being and Making Friends”, “Breaking the Cycle of Bullying”, “Positive Discipline”, and “Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style”. Attendees included not only interested parents but also students from Cañada’s Early Childhood Education program, who got credit for being at the lectures.

The Traveling Storytime program has experienced a bump in interested volunteers. In just the last month, seven positions reading to daycares have been filled. The program’s director has also been training students fromCañadaCollege to present storytimes to the children of the college’s CBET students. These kids are with their parents as they take night classes to improve their English. Win-win for all, and a great new partnership with Cañada.

The library has begun a new partnership with Sequoia Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center to promote library programs and storytimes, to provide library card applications, and, of course, pump the importance of reading with children from the get-go.

Jim Howland’s new storytimes at Schaberg are very popular and well attended. They also have the added benefit that the older children he reads to are now asking him to recommend other good books for them to read on their own. He is able to take the time and care to help these now hooked on reading kids pick books they love.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 assorted Spidermen, ninjas, princesses, cat princesses, ghouls, tiny twin lions, little pumpkins, and even a few game dressed-up parents haunted the library tonight for our big Halloween program. Things started off with the traditional costume parade where we marched inside and outside the library to scare the grownups, and wound up in the Family Place for a concert by the rocking Raytones, featuring Ray the Rhino, who had every superhero and fairy on their feet and dancing. Everyone went home with a treat having had a ghouliscious time. Halloween (and KinderCard) is our biggest night of the year and the excitement as kids come in decked out in their costumes is palpable. Stacey Chan from the Patch came by to film the action. The best part of this year’s celebration were the several families who thanked the librarians as they left, saying that this was their first Halloween in this country. We are so glad they came to the library for their introduction.

Of all such events hosted by other cities since 2006, this years’ One Book, One Community program was the most glamorous, so Redwood City gets credit for putting on a great party. Attendees mentioned the chemistry between the two great speakers and their appreciation for the Fox Theater venue.

Continuing our partnership with the San Mateo County Credit Union, Fair Oaks hosted “The Importance of Building Credit.” This is one of a series of Bilingual Financial Education workshops.

We continue to collaborate with El Concilio and their Bi-National Health Month program.  Children visited the library and listened to stories and learned about exercise, nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Project READ October 2011 Accomplishments

Project READ Kids In Partnership program (KIP) KIP Tutor Learner Matches & On-going Tutor Training

KIP is in full swing at both the Redwood City Public Library and Fair Oaks Elementary School Library! Over one hundred youth, including teen tutors, preteen tutors and elementary-aged students are currently participating in the KIP program! Throughout the week, 56 KIP tutor-learner pairs work together on individualized plans that help students improve reading and homework skills as well as other self-stated learning goals.

Meanwhile, staff and AmeriCorps members continue to work to provide training and support to the teen and preteen tutors.  These trainings allow teen tutors to refine their tutoring skills while also revisiting and reviewing basic skills that help them in their own academic lives.  Teens and preteens have a voice in the content of these trainings as well.  Per their suggestions and self-stated needs, some of the trainings so far have included:

  • Being reflective and reporting on tutoring progress
  • How to individualize tutoring sessions
  • Using learning games to help build students’ specific skills

KIP Health Literacy Component Pilot Program

Based on student feedback and recent budget cuts in our public schools, Project READ has developed a pilot program to meet the needs of students in health literacy.  Students love to do hands-on and outdoor projects, but unfortunately there is little time in the classroom for these activities. This year, we added PE and a KIP Cooking Class to the KIP Program in order to help meet these needs.  They have been a great success so far!

KIP Family Outreach

In October, over 70 youth and parents took learning beyond the library and school as they ventured to the Arata Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay. At the farm, students and tutors picked their own pumpkin, found their way out of a hay labyrinth, pet and fed real animals and experienced train and hayrides. Some brave groups even ventured into the haunted barn!  It is great to have the parents giving so many volunteer hours to our KIP programs!

KIP Story Hour

At the October KIP story hour, over 85 KIP learners, tutors and family members came together for a musical celebration, crafts and books!  Lori and RJ of Cotton Candy Express returned and were better than ever, with their festive story telling.  Families then participated in the book give away as well as the hands-on crafts, which included, cupcake decorating, bookmarks and Day of the Dead cards.

Family Literacy Instructional Center(FLIC)/Families For Literacy Story Hour:

This month our families celebrated Halloween in our monthly Story Hour by making pre-literacy Halloween crafts made with recycled and household materials. Families got into the Halloween spirit by dancing and singing along with Children’s band, Cotton Candy Express! In addition to songs and dances, families also were able to watch a puppet show performance. Each family went home with homemade crafts, self-selected books and fun Halloween memories. Over 85 families and friends joined us for October’s Story Hour, many of whom were dressed in costume. It was a fun-filled evening for all!

Family Literacy Instructional Center’s Community Partnership:

October brought about our second monthly Read Aloud with the Junior League. This month students gathered in small groups with a combination of community tutors, teen tutors and students PreK to 3rd grade. Learners and tutors read a book about jack-o’-lanterns to get ready for Halloween. After reading, tutors and students worked together creating a three-dimensional pumpkin of their own to use as a decoration at home.

Adult Literacy Programs-Inmate Literacy Services:

September marked the beginning of the largest inmate tutor training class to date. 14 men began the class, and all 14 graduated and will become tutors. The graduation of this large class may mark the beginning of a new era; the number of tutors and learners in our program will grow and so will the community jail length of incarceration as a result of the new guidelines for state facilities. The participants will also be with us longer and have more time to focus on meeting their goals and prepare for GED testing and re-entry programs. 11 Project READ learners in the men’s facility are prepared to begin GED testing next month.  They have all been working very diligently with their tutors.  Project READ’s tutors help prepare the inmates for reentry into the community as productive and successful community members! This month Project READ completed a poetry and literacy workshop at the Women’s Transitional Facility.  The poems were compiled into an anthology that turned out beautifully.  Upon giving the women their copies, we read each poem aloud in the small group.  There were tears and lots of clapping.  It was emotional for the women to see their hard work and heartfelt words scripted on paper.  Many of the women said they plan to continue writing poetry and that they’ve learned it can be a “great outlet” for them.  We started a new Poetry and Literacy small group at the men’s facility.  10 prisoners are participating.

Project READ’s Adult-Inmate Family Literacy program:

We wrapped up a Book Club in the Choices program.  The small group read The Pursuit if Happiness.  One of the themes in the book is the relationship the main character Chris Gardner has with his son.  Chris grew up without a father and doubted his own abilities to be a good father.   All of the men in the book club grew up without a father.  Many of them now have children.  The one’s who have children wrote letters recounting what they experienced on the night their first child was born.  The men also recorded themselves reading a poignant book by Nancy Tillman called On the Night You Were Born.  The books will be sent to their children along with the CD of the parent reading the book aloud and a personalized note each wrote inside the book’s front cover.

Community members participating in Project READ’s Adult Literacy Program are meeting with their tutors and making amazing progress.  The learners are coming to the Families Literacy Learning Center in between sessions to work on computer aided literacy programs and also receiving support from the Project READ staff and the AmeriCorps members.  We made 9 new tutor learner matches in October and are preparing to match our new tutors with learners as soon as the new November tutor training class has graduated.   A new tutor wrote: “his zest to learn and his sense of humor make working with him so fun and inspiring!  I usually walk out of the library on such a high!”











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