Sunday, November 30, 2014

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Alexander City AL :: Grand Rapids MI :: New OrleansLA

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

NPO Showcase: Literacy Center of West Michigan
This segment of NPO Showcase features Dr. Wendy Falb, the new Executive Director of the Literacy Center of West Michigan.

Dr. Falb joins us in studio to discuss her new role as Executive Director, what drew her to the mission, and how the Literacy Center is working to build a literate community. The Literacy Center provides literacy tutoring programs to strengthen reading and language skills. Volunteer tutors provide these programs, and the Literacy Center is always looking for new volunteers who want to help change lives through reading. You can learn more about the Literacy Center and how you can get involved at their website.

Literacy programs imperiled in New Orleans

In 2012, the library system saw the reopening of several branches, with Mayor Mitch Landrieu leading a ribbon cutting outside the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center in Broadmoor, his old neighborhood. Reopenings followed in Lakeview, Gentilly, New Orleans East and Algiers, and the NOPL now has 14 branches open, the most since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods destroyed several libraries. Charles Brown joined NOPL as head librarian in 2011 and has helped usher in new programs, ebooks, digital services and other updates, including one of the most ambitious goals within the NOPL yet, topping even the back-to-back-to-back branch overhauls and reopenings: By 2018, the city aims to be the most literate city in the U.S.

It's a tall order. According to NOPL, more than 40 percent of people in the city ages 16 and older struggle with basic literacy. The New Orleans Community Data Center estimates more than a quarter of the city's workforce has little to no reading, writing or computer skills — more than double the national average. Many New Orleans literacy programs are full, with some keeping waiting lists as long as a year.

At the NOPL's annual budget hearing before the New Orleans City Council Nov. 10, Brown warned — again — about the library nearing "a crossroads," with its reserve funds drying up while operating five new locations.

"I'm not sure how we allowed this to happen," District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell told Brown at the hearing. "We have not done well by you, by libraries, by our people."  READ MORE !

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Photographer explores worth of words :: Robert Dawson - Raising Literacy

Photographer explores worth of words
Record 11.16.2014 by Michael Fitzgerald

Renowned photographer Robert Dawson is in town, shooting a yearlong project called Raising Literacy: A Photographic Survey of Libraries and Literacy in San Joaquin County.”

If that sounds dry, it’s not. Dawson believes a city’s DNA is often encoded in its libraries. That’s a good call. The champions of literacy, and the forces they fight, speak volumes about a city.

Or, as Dawson put it, “It’s not just about literacy for farm workers’ kids. It’s about literacy as culture and identity.”

On Friday, Dawson was shooting at French Camp Elementary School. I caught up with him. The tall, white-haired 64-year-old San Franciscan stood in the office, dressed Urban Hiker Casual and draped with photographic gear.

Along for the ride was Dawson’s wife and curator, Ellen Manchester.

“This is a new situation in terms of photography in a classroom,” said Dawson, who is known for landscapes. “You’re going to see someone struggling to make sense of this situation.”

Dawson was not out to make cute pictures of avuncular teachers and students beaming over books. His photographs are filled with social and cultural observations. Some are pointed.  READ MORE !

Thursday, November 27, 2014

This is Why Libraries Matter: Ferguson @ NationSwell

This is Why Libraries Matter: Ferguson
NationSwell: 11.25.2014 by Lorraine Chow

As schools are closed due to safety concerns, a stalwart in the community bravely holds a city together.

If you’re looking to help out in Ferguson, Mo., here’s a simple but important thing you can do: donate to their local library.

As a safety precaution for students, schools in the surrounding area of the St. Louis suburb closed after the grand jury reached a decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. However, as tensions flare, the Ferguson Municipal Library has decided to keep their doors open.

Along with providing space for teachers to teach, it’s also offering water, computer access and lunch to visitors. The library also acts as welcome relief for parents who needed a safe place to bring their kids while they are at work. (A coalition of 11 churches in north St. Louis County are also open for the community, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.) As we previously reported, the Ferguson library first stepped up in August after protests over the slain teen forced local schools to shutter their doors.

The cost of closing schools is far greater than students missing out on a few lessons. Quartz’s ideas editor S. Mitra Kalita writes that cancelling school is akin to “[closing] the door on the future.” A high school senior tells the Chicago Tribune that the August cancellations negatively impacted her college applications: “It’s been hard to keep up with band, tennis and National Honor Society meeting, when they were all getting scraped.” Even worse: With the poverty rate in Ferguson almost double Missouri’s average and more than 60 percent of students on free or reduced lunch plans, with the school grounds closed, many kids won’t get proper nutrition if they are not in school.

This is why libraries matter. They aren’t just places where you can occasionally check out a book. For Ferguson, it provides a safe haven for a community in turmoil.  READ MORE !

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Contra Costa Co CA :: Altus OK :: Dallas TX

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

Concord man's journey from illiteracy to writing poetry
Contra Costa Times: 11.12.2014 by Janice De Jesus

For the first five decades of his life, Ralph "Ike" Eikanger couldn't read. With the help of Project Second Chance, the Contra Costa County Library's adult literacy program, Eikanger can now not only read and write, he's published a book, "A Journey from Illiteracy toPoetry."

"Project Second Chance is a place you can find yourself," Eikanger wrote in his book. "It is a place that can envelop you in learning. It is a place of letters. Project Second Chance is a place of warm and friendly people. PSC is a place of hope."

Eikanger was in his early 50s when he decided to learn how to read.

"I was working at the Concord Naval Weapons Station for 30 years, so I decided 22 years ago I wanted to read if I want to upgrade my job," said the Concord resident.

So he sought the help of a PSC tutor whom he worked with from 1991-1994. Five years later, he was paired with tutor Helen Beyer who's been his tutor sinceREAD MORE !

Literacy Celebrated Learning
Altus Times: 11.11.2014

The Great Plains Literacy Council hosted the annual Literacy Appreciation Luncheon at the Altus Public Library on November 3. The purpose of the luncheon was to thank adult learners, tutors, volunteers, and contributors for their roles in the literacy programs. Autumn centerpieces and scarecrows, provided by the Jackson County Farm Bureau, were used on the tables.

Then Mrs. Winters began a summary of the yearly successes using large letters to spell out the reason for the literacy celebration. The letters were:

L for learners…There were 121 adult learners (38 males and 83 females) involved in the past year. The largest percentage or 52% of learners were 25-44 years old. Seventy-six percent of the adult learners were Hispanic.

E for excellent GPLC board members, who meet quarterly at the Altus Public Library. These men and women make 100% financial contributions individually to the organization as well as providing their time and other resources.

A for the accounting of funds.

R for results…There were 8 adult learners who became US citizens after study of history and the language knowledge. One adult learner got her driver’s license. As far as academic results, 55% of the community literacy learners had advanced at least one grade level in reading after 80 hours of study compared to the state requirement of 27% increaseREAD MORE !

With help of East Dallas' Aberg Center for Literacy, immigrants move forward with education
Dallas Morning News: 11.14.2014 by Julissa Trevino

There’s a flurry of conversations in Spanish outside the small classrooms in Garrett Hall at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in East Dallas.

But inside the classrooms, there’s a focus on English as students learn basic math skills in preparation for the GED. Others learn the elements of a banking system in a financial literacy class.

More than 120 adult students attend classes at Aberg Center for Literacy, a nonprofit program designed to bridge the gap between basic and advanced literacy and English as a Second Language instruction.

Many of them, like Lorena Flores, 33, are immigrants working toward a better quality of life.

Flores, who emigrated from Mexico nearly 15 years ago, said her lack of English skills was holding her back.

“I was very frustrated because I couldn’t help my kids with their homework,” she said. “I didn’t have anyone to help.”

Though Aberg operates out of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in East Dallas, the organization is not affiliated with the church.

The nonprofit was founded in 2003 as PreGED School, with the intent to provide the next step of literacy education.  READ MORE !

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oxford Dictionary - Word of the Year :: Vape

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is… vape
Oxford Dictionaries: 11.17.2014

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to look back and see which words have been significant throughout the past twelve months, and to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. Without further ado, we can exclusively reveal that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014 is….

Although there is a shortlist of strong contenders, as you’ll see below, it was vape that emerged victorious as Word of the Year.

What does vape mean?
So, what does vape mean? It originated as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. The definition was added in August 2014: the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device’, while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.

Why was vape chosen?
As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vape has grown significantly in popularity. You are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.

Usage of vape peaked in April 2014 – as the graph below indicates – around the time that the UK’s first ‘vape cafĂ©’ (The Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London) opened its doors, and protests were held in response to New York City banning indoor vaping. In the same month, the issue of vaping was debated by The Washington Post, the BBC, and the British newspaper The Telegraph, amongst others.

The shortlist
Here are the words that came close, but didn’t quite make it as Word of the Year:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

WISE Survey: “School in 2030”

Are teachers obsolete? Will online content make traditional brick-and-mortar schools a thing of the past? Will there be one global education language? Should school focus on personal skills rather than academic knowledge? Will company certification be on a par with diplomas? These are some of the issues tackled by the 2014 WISE Survey: School in 2030. [Full Report pdf]

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Riverside Co CA :: Nashville TN :: Honesdale PA

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

American Dream Starts @ your library® Grant Allows California Library to Expand ESL Classes
@yourLibrary: 10.12.2014 by Steve Zalusky

A California library system is providing opportunities for patrons who wish to expand their horizons by learning English.

Through an American Dream Starts @ your library grant awarded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to the American Library Association, the Riverside County (Calif.) Library System has been able to expand ESL classes for adult learners.

In this countywide program, volunteers are working with one-on-one tutoring to help individuals learn to read and write.

In the county, which is spread over 7,200 square miles, it is estimated that there are over 50,000 people in Riverside County who are eligible for citizenship. However, there are several barriers in their way. One barrier to citizenship is being able to speak, read and write English in order to take the Citizenship Exam.

This community-based program that changes not only improves students’ lives, but also those of their families.

One of the students, Laura Serrano, a mother of two children whose first language is Spanish, said learning is English is important in order to get a good job.

“This program is very good for me, because it’s free, it’s close to my house, I have very good teachers,” she said.  READ MORE !

Adult Literacy Council teaches sometimes frustrating language
WSMV: 11.05.2014 by Terry Bulger

In Nashville, the Adult Literacy Council exists to make sure anyone who wants to learn how to read and write can.

Jessie Hee needs to learn English quickly. She just arrived in America from China.

Hee has a job at the Lucky Bamboo Chinese restaurant, but can't read the words on the menu.

Volunteer Geoff Reed visits Hee twice a week to help. After a month of tutoring, she is starting to pick up the language.

Reed is part of the Adult Literacy Council's volunteer effort. He is retired and willing to help teach a language that can be frustrating at times.

It's not just about teaching straight out of the book. Reed said new arrivals also learn to love English slang.

"A guy once asked me what 'shove it' meant, and so I tried to explain it to him," Reed said.

Hee is more interested in the basics.

"I want to make a lot of money, do a lot of working," she said. READ MORE !

Tutor recognition
Pike County Courier: 11.05.2014

Newly hired Executive Director, David Sutton welcomed volunteer tutors and guests, followed by Board President Annette Petry who expressed heartfelt gratitude for the volunteer tutors who worked so hard throughout the year.

WPALP volunteer tutors continue to help students improve skills and attain educational goals. With one on one instruction geared for students’ needs along with a combination of encouragement and mentoring, real life changes are made possible for many adults who come to the Wayne Pike Adult Literacy Program seeking help.

WPALP continues to be successful year after year due to the many talented and dedicated volunteer tutors in the program. Tutoring is provided on an individual basis and takes place in a convenient setting such as library branches, houses of worship, some government agencies and county municipal buildings, keeping in mind the schedule of both tutor and student. Services are always free.  READ MORE !

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Literacy: Spanning North America - Campbell River BC :: Camden Co NJ :: Lompoc CA

Literacy:  Spanning North America

Volunteers share the precious gift of literacy
Campbell River Mirror: 11.06.2014 by Mike Davies

Literacy is one of the most important skills you have.

It’s the skill that allows you to bring in the majority of the information you receive – outside sensory cues – and it’s the skill that enables you to pass the information you have on to others.

Kat Eddy, Adult Literacy Outreach Coordinator for the Campbell River Literacy Association (CRLA), is hoping it’s also a skill you’d like to help strengthen in others. The CRLA’s adult literacy program is, according to Eddy, for people 19 and older to help them “achieve their own personal literacy goals, whether that be going back to school and upgrading, or maybe they just want more literacy skills to be able to read to their grandchildren, whatever their personal learning plan is, we’re here to support them in that.”

Last year there were over 1700 volunteer hours put in by tutors in the adult literacy program, according to Eddy, but this year, they’re struggling to find enough volunteers to keep up with their growing need.  READ MORE !

Camden County officials announce literacy measure
Courier Post: 10.27.2014 by Phil Dunn

The ability to read is a skill people take for granted every day, but for millions of Americans, illiteracy is a major stumbling block.

Local officials hope to change that by offering free adult reading classes at the downtown Camden branch of the Camden County Library System.

Two teachers have been hired to work with both English-speaking and non-native English-speaking adults in small groups weekdays, evenings and Saturdays.

“One of our goals is to make positive changes in the communities we serve through programs like these free reading classes ...” said Linda Devlin, director of the county library system.

“Our library is committed to improving literacy skills and providing residents with opportunities to advance their education.”

More than 32 million adults in the U.S. cannot read, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy.  READ MORE !

AAUW discusses 'Literacy in Lompoc'
Lompoc Record: 10.27.2014

The Lompoc-Vandenberg Branch, AAUW, recently invited a panel of experts to talk about “Literacy in Lompoc,” a new initiative for the community.

United Way CEO Eddie Taylor announced that Lompoc is the only community in the U.S. with an initiative for literacy that touched all segments of the population. Sid Haro, Lompoc Unified School District assistant superintendent, spoke about the new “Reading Plus” program used in the Lompoc schools and explained the support the district has put into place for both teachers and administrators to ensure success.

Linda Hogan, “Reading Plus” teacher at Fillmore school, saw great success last year in raising student reading levels by three to five years. She used the program with her own children and saw amazing results.

The Lompoc Library Adult Literacy Program has joined the Central Coast Literacy Council under the direction of Laura A. Davidson, director. Adults who aren’t literate will continue to be supported and coached by volunteers to become workforce ready and more confident.  READ MORE !

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Lifelong Benefits of Reading - Alice Sullivan

The lifelong benefits of reading
World Economic Forum: 11.06.2014 by Alice Sullivan

Reading for pleasure as a child has been powerfully linked in research to the development of vocabulary and maths skills up to the age of 16. But does reading still have a part to play in the breadth of our adult vocabulary? Does it matter what kind of books you read, or is it just the amount of reading that counts?

Our study of a representative sample of more than 9,400 British people born in 1970 looked at how vocabularies developed between the ages of 16 and 42. The test involved asking people to pair words from one list with words of a similar meaning from another list. For example, they were asked to find other words meaning “hirsute”, “grotesque” or “cerebral”.

The good news is that learning doesn’t stop at the end of the school years – whether they read regularly or not. In fact, our study members demonstrated large gains in vocabulary between the ages of 16 and 42. At age 16, their average vocabulary test score was 55%. By age 42, study members scored an average of 63% on the same test.

Another piece of good news is that reports of the death of reading seem to have been exaggerated. More than a quarter, or 26%, of respondents said that they read books in their spare time on a daily basis, with a further 33% saying that they read for pleasure at least once a month. This left a minority of 41% who said that they read in their leisure time only every few months or less often.  READ MORE !

Friday, November 7, 2014

Literacy Forum: Libraries in the 21st Century - New Haven CT

Literacy Forum: Libraries in the 21st Century
New Haven Independent: 11.03.2013 by Josiah Brown

On Oct. 29, the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven and the New Haven Free Public Library held a breakfast forum at the public library’s Wilson branch in the Hill neighborhood. Panelists addressed “Libraries in the 21st Century” and how to meet communities’ needs, from early childhood and youth development to employment, technology, civics, and English-language learning.

Martha Brogan, the new city librarian with a range of community and university library experience, welcomed the audience and introduced the panel.

Before doing so, she referred to studies by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project – for example, a 2011 presentation onHow Libraries Add Value to Communities– and how broader trends are evident in New Haven.  She previewed an event held later on Oct. 29, the launch of the Public Library’s new Readmobile, as an illustration of the library’s continuing efforts to reach residents of all ages, across the city.

“The Public Library Reimagined”

Kendall “Ken” Wiggin, Connecticut’s State Librarian since 1998, brought a perspective both national and statewide to this local discussion.  Invoking an Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries– including a summer 2014 session on “The Public Library Reimagined” – he emphasized that as libraries are not just about “loaning books,” measures and expectations must change.  He said, “Successful libraries are really about partnering with communities” in response to what they “need.”  He enumerated several elements of those needs.  “Information literacy … is about being able to connect” with people’s “life skills,” whether related to employment, personal finances, technology, health, civic involvement, or parenting.  He cited “digital literacy” and the rise of “maker spaces” (the New Haven Public Library now has a 3-D printer), as well as “financial literacy.”  He spoke of “health literacy” (from the ability to read the instructions on a medicine label to knowledge of nutrition and fitness).  Citing “civic literacy” (e.g., awareness of voter registration requirements and elected officials) as a key to “civic engagement,” he alluded to “all kinds of outreach” such as the Readmobile.  He mentioned “environmental literacy.”  In short, he said, virtually “every problem has … some literacy” aspect.  “Libraries have this expanded role” in furthering “lifelong learning.”  READ MORE !

Thursday, November 6, 2014

More books at home during high school years linked to higher adult literacy @CTV News

More books at home during high school years linked to higher adult literacy
CTV News: 11.04.2014 by Brett Tarver

Parents take note, the more you expose your children to books, the greater their chances of obtaining the essential life skills that can lead to career success, according to a Statistics Canada study.

The study released Tuesday, concludes that the number of books in a person’s home during their high school years is linked to reading, writing, math and social skills later in life.

Based on an analysis of the literacy and numeracy of Canadian university graduates in 2012, Statistics Canada found that, of those who had less than 10 books at home when they were in high school, 31 per cent were in the lower range for literacy compared with just 9 per cent among those who reported having more than 200 books at home.

Study compares Canadian literacy in 2003 and 2012 
This graph compares the literacy levels of the population aged 16 to 65 in Canada in 2003 and 2012. (Statistics Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Council of Ministers of Education, Canada)

A similar pattern was identified between the number of books at home during high school and adult math skills.

The survey, led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also revealed a stark contrast between the literacy and numeracy levels of university graduates with the high school dropouts.

The study found that while a quarter of university graduates in 2012 in Canada aged 25 to 65 had a literacy score at the second level or below (out of five levels), 88 per cent of individuals aged 25 to 65 who did not have a high school degree had literacy in the lower range.  READ MORE !