November/December 2011 Report

Library Director’s Report-November/December 2011

 The Latino Community Council of Redwood City will once again work with the Foundation on a fundraiser and community event on Sunday, April 29. They have renamed it “Kermes Dia del Nino.” This event has many community and business sponsors, including the Library and Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

 The Library Foundation has raised $160,000 towards the goal of $200,000 for books and materials for the Fair Oaks Branch Library. They will hold a fundraiser on February 9 to hopefully finish off the campaign.

 As you probably know, the Governor announced the “budget trigger,” mechanism on for “Tier 1” and a portion of the “Tier 2” budget items. This will result in a reduction of $15,866,000 to the State Library budget for local assistance. Fortunately we have been planning for this, although it reduces our general revenue by $100,000 and impacts our Project READ grant ability to seek matching funds. The recent court ruling abolishing redevelopment agencies will also create undetermined local ripple effects. We are working with the State Library and colleagues across the state, reviewing the current California Library Services Act (state funding) to see how it can be updated and/or amended to bring it into the 21st century. Two effects will be the loss of federal money (had to be matched with state), and the loss of reimbursing those jurisdictions that net-lend materials to other jurisdictions, which may lead to charging non-residents a use fee.

 Our Link+ system went live in December. Link+ is another one of our strategies to streamline time-intensive processes and enhance service. It is a service which allows customers to borrow books from participating public and academic libraries providing access to a single searchable catalog for books. This replaces a staff intensive process and allows our customers access to a much bigger selection of titles that we do not own. 

 In collaboration with the County, the “Food-for-Fines” program ran through December. This year we cleared 900 delinquent accounts, slightly lower than last year. We also collected nearly 30,000 pounds of food, feeding more than 1,000 families for one week each.

By our calculations, around 1,725 people saw Santa at the Redwood City libraries this year. It was a year that marked collaborations: between the library and the Redwood Shores Community Association, and within the library, between adult and children’s programming and the Friends of the Library. There is nothing quite as magical as watching a child get their turn on Santa’s lap to tell him what they want for Christmas. It is a great event that truly does bring in whole families, not just dads, but extensive entourages of relatives. As with Halloween, many people get their first exposure to the customs of Christmas (such as Flying Poodles) because of the library.

Israel Quic – Library Director for the Biblioteca Comunitaria “Rija’tzuul Na’ooj” which is located in San Juan La Laguna, Solola – Honduras visited our library at the end of November. He was part of a group lead by William Cartwright President of the Riecken Community Libraries Foundation. They were touring areas in the US that have a growing number of immigrants from Honduras. Mr. Quic was interested in learning about our programs and we had a good exchange of information and ideas. At the end of their visit Mr. Quick presented us with a donation of books to be added to our collection. 

The Fair Oaks Library started the month of November with a wonderful program to celebrate the Day of the Dead.  Over 200 participated in the “Sugar Skull” presentation by Rosario González. Day of the Dead is a joyful commemoration of ancestors and a celebration of the continuity of life. The program started out with a power point presentation and explanation of how the holiday is celebrated in different parts of Mexico and Latin America. Next we had a demonstration of the art of making and decorating sugar skulls, making pasta skeletons and other Day of the Dead paper crafts. Participants decorated over 150 skulls. A special thanks to Library Board Member Reina Barragan for helping to make the program a success by volunteering her time to help out the participants who were making crafts. 

 Continuing our partnership with the San Mateo County Credit Union on Nov. 16th the library hosted “First Time Home Buyers“, one of a series of Bilingual Financial Education Workshops provided.

 Parents are often confounded in this day and age about how to get their children to improve their grades and their reading skills. And schools are often frustrated in their attempts to convince parents of the importance of reading in their children’s lives. It’s especially difficult for parents for whom English is their second language. Enter the library, of course. RCPL was invited by Hawes School to send a librarian to talk to a parent group about the importance of reading, and how to get kids to do it. In many ways this is an easy task for any librarian as it’s so easy to talk up all the library has to offer, and because we believe so strongly in our mission to connect kids to books. But in so many ways it is a challenge. There is so much competing for the attention not only of children, but also their folks, and so many barriers to true literacy, real and perceived.

 Saw this in the Silicon Valley blog of the Merc today: “I feel that learning with books is as important a rite of passage as learning to eat with utensils and being potty-trained.”

Ari Wallach, whom the New York Times describes as a tech-obsessed New York entrepreneur, allows his daughters to read only print books. Other parents mentioned in the NYT article say they are concerned about things such as the sensory experience of reading a print book, as well as distractions that can come from electronic gadgets. Meanwhile, e-readers and tablets for beginning readers — and sometimes those who cannot yet read — abound. Bay Area-based Leapfrog recently released the LeapPad, a tablet on which kids can read e-books, among other things. In addition, e-readers and Apple’s iPad commonly appear on kids’ wish lists.

From a letter in the Mercury News. In their article “Education reform is key to solving budget crisis,” (Insight, 4/10/11), the authors state that “teachers in classroom determine the quality of education for California’s children.”

Their premise is only partially correct. The teachers with the far bigger influence are the parents. Between birth and age 16, kids spend only 9 percent of their lives in school, 91 percent of their lives outside of school. Classroom teachers, meanwhile, must teach 25 to 30 students or more, many with wide-ranging challenges and skills. Most parents, on the other hand, deal with just one to four kids.

With fewer than 60 percent of American families reading to their kids in a regular basis, clearly our students’ poor academic performance points to a lack of literacy customs in the home. If even 80 or 90 percent of our state’s parents read to their young kids for at least 20 minutes a day, and made sure that their older kids both finished their homework and read for pleasure each day, our state’s dismal educational ranking of 47 would soar. Teachers would rediscover the joy of teaching, and we would save many millions on tests.

 Teen Center Stories
An overweight teen who was often teased at school found a group of peers that respected him when he came to the teen center.

A group of our teens were worried about a friend who is a cutter.  They brought the issue up with us asking how they can help their friend.  We talked to them about different resources in the community for him as well as let them know that we are available to talk with him too.

Last year our staff noticed that the teens would become rowdy in the evenings due in large part to being hungry and grumpy. Our solution was to purchase cup of noodles for the teens and ask them for a $0.50.

Our staff helps teens with a wide range of homework problems in addition to the traditional problems of math, science, English, and history. We have helped teens post an ad for a car on Craig’s List, sign-up for online courses at the local community college, apply for college, apply for jobs online, and write resumes for jobs.

Our teens tell us that they enjoy coming to the teen center because they have made friends from many different schools. We have homeschooled kids that feel welcome and are able to increase their circle of peers.

The teen center staff is specially trained to work with teens and to build caring relationships. Often our teens come in asking for a specific employee because they have really connected with that person.

The teen center has become a place where the teens feel at home and can be themselves. They have caring adults they know are there to look out for them. We strive to be the family/gang that many teens are seeking.

Project READ Accomplishments- Ending 2011 and starting the New Year! 

  • Project READ/Family Literacy Instructional Center (FLIC):
    The holidays were in full swing at FLIC this December. Families and learning pairs worked tirelessly to complete end of the year projects, papers and of course get ready for the holiday season. It was a busy and exciting time for our learners and tutors. This month students from PreK-4th grade participated in our new monthly Reading Group facilitated by the Junior League community tutors and several FLIC teen tutors. Students and tutors were all given the same book to read aloud or listen to as they followed along. Students and tutors then worked on a pre-literacy craft to give as gifts for friends or families for the holiday season. It was a fun and engaging activity for everyone. Learners were able to bring home their new book.


  • Project READ Families For Literacy Story Hour (FFL):

The December Story Hour was a holiday event to remember. Close to 150 families and friends came to join us in singing, dancing, art and more. Cotton Candy Express, the award-winning children’s band, started the night off for us with music and dancing. Children were able to perform for their families up on “stage.” After the entertainment, 15 volunteers including HOBA members, Starbucks volunteers and Junior League members, helped the students take part in our gift-making workshop, where students made presents for their friends and families. While the children were making crafts, parents were “shopping” for books and gifts for their children in our “secret shopping” area that was filled with donated gifts to ensure that all our children has something to open for the holidays. To make this event even more festive, our generous Junior League volunteers gave gift bags filled with scarves, hats and games to our families, and Starbucks brought peppermint hot chocolate to served to all the families. It was truly the gift of giving.

  • A Special Holiday Gift…

A Project READ family is especially thankful this holiday season for the generosity of Project READ supporters. Thanks to their heartfelt donations, a Project READ fifth grader was able to receive an eye exam as well as the necessary lenses and frames vital to her continued academic success.  She is so thankful for the glasses and for the help they have given her with reading!

  • Celebrating the Gift of Time…

Our teen and preteen tutors completed over 930 hours of community service tutoring in the KIP program during the Fall 2011 semester! Their time has been well spent tutoring the little elementary students.

In recent follow up assessments, designed to note progress and refocus goals, KIP students share the accomplishments in their own words:

            “I’ve learned to do my letters and read more words.” (Dayrin, grade 2)

            “I’ve gotten better at reading, math, science and taking tests.” (Jade, grade 2)

            “I’m better at reading and I’m getting smart.” (Rosa, grade 1)

          “I learned to write my last name…I know how to borrow…I’m getting better at  reading…I’m getting better at writing because I didn’t know about the spaces before but now I do know…I can also count to 100 now!” (Perla, grade 2)

Over 100 KIP learners, tutors and families came together to celebrate this successful semester of tutoring, learning and community service at our annual Gift-Making Workshop & Story Hour Celebration. Lori and RJ of Cotton Candy Express kicked the evening off with festive songs, musical instruments and unparalleled audience participation.  Two of our youngest students, who are typically very shy, actually volunteered to come up and sing along with Lori and RJ right into the microphone!

As Lori and RJ kept the crowd occupied, staff secretly ferried moms, dads, aunties and uncles over to the school’s community room where a group of volunteers had displayed a beautiful arrangement of brand new books, games, and puzzles. These amazing donated gifts ranged from infant board books, puzzles, art books and chapter books, truly ensuring that there be a meaningful and relevant item for each individual.  As the kids enjoyed the music, adults “shopped” for gifts for the whole family, thus ensuring that every Project READ family enjoy the gifts of reading and learning this holiday season! 

This much appreciated shopping experience was made possible by local businesses and kind-hearted donors, and was especially enhanced this year by the generous donations from Ormondale Elementary School of Portola Valley.  As part of Ormondale’s 2011 Book Fair, students and parents made contributions to a fund that went toward books and materials for the families of Project READ.  Back in October, Project READ staff had the opportunity to shop for over $1,500.00 worth of books and gifts to be given out to Project READ families!   The KIP parents were exuberant in their expressions of gratitude and we thank all who made this holiday brighter for these families! Meanwhile, back in the cafeteria, the students caught the spirit of giving as they participated in five crafts specifically designed to be gifts and keepsakes.

On the Ice in Downtown Redwood City!

Our preteen tutors and AmeriCorps members were thrilled with Redwood City’s new Courthouse Square Ice Skating Rink!  In order to reward the preteens for doing double-duty as both learners and tutors this year, Project READ staff and tutors enjoyed an afternoon on the ice. 






Adult, Families For Literacy and Adult Inmate FFL:
We has 2 new FFL matches. As well as 6 women graduating the poetry class and compiled an anthology. In the men’s facility 6 men passed GED tests and 2 men completed all testing and received their GEDs. 15 books/recordings were sent home to children of mother’s housed at Women’s Transitional Facility.





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