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 !

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