02 April 2013

Everyone On! Libraries Play Essential Role in Connect2Compete Campaign

Recently announced:  A partnership among the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, OCLC’s Web Junction, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Federal Communications Commission, and the non-profit Connect2Compete to provide access to broadband Internet services and digital literacy training for the 100 million Americans who do not have access from home. There is common agreement among the partners that libraries are essential to get “EveryoneOn” and competitive in the 21st century.  EveryoneOn is a public awareness effort designed to help all Americans access free digital literacy training in their libraries and community centers - a topic near and dear to the hearts and activities of librarians and public libraries across the country.    

On the national level, Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute for Museum and Library Services reports that "Libraries are already stepping up to this challenge. Eighty-three percent of them offer informal training in digital literacy, helping people learn how to use computers, navigate the web, and find the best and most useful information. And 44 percent offer formal classes."

So how does our Beaufort County Library stack up against the national effort? We offer informal and formal training in digital literacy.  We help people learn how to use computers, navigate the web, and find the best and most useful information. According to the recent report of our assistant director, Jan O'Rourke, to our Library system's Board of Trustees regarding our system's progress towards meeting literacy related goals set in the 2011 - 2013 Strategic Plan, we have accomplished a great deal towards our goals:

Make informed decisions by understanding how to find, evaluate, and use information in all formats. Beaufort County residents will have access to information in all formats and will acquire the skills needed to search for, locate, evaluate and effectively use information to meet their personal goals.
Continue and expand the “WorkStarts” initiative
ü As of December 2012, our WorkStarts presence on our website has been visited 6,713 times.
ü 78 job seeker labs have been offered
ü 158 one-on-one sessions have been held.
ü 353 classes of interest to job seekers have occurred (resume preparation, how to set up an e-mail account in order to apply online, etc.). These numbers, thus far, have exceeded our targets.
ü Additionally we have convened 2 breakfast information-sharing meetings with other entities involved in workforce development.

Continue to provide high speed internet to online information
ü Instruction on proprietary databases, as needed:  approximately 15.
ü Monthly classes on software applications and/or basic computing: 92 total.
The BUILD Team will stay abreast of new technologies and service innovation trends
ü The concepts of makerspaces in libraries, participatory librarianship, using iPADS as early literacy tools, promoting media literacy and transliteracy, using social media tools for programming, book discussions and forums are all ideas that are being explored.  A full report on this as well as what the library of the 21st Century might look like will be available by spring.

Goal 3
Advance all forms of literacy for all ages. Beginning at birth, Beaufort County residents will have the programs and services that enable them to enter school ready to learn and, throughout life, residents will have the support they need to improve their literacy skills in order to meet their personal goals.
Obtain an early literacy grant to develop and implement a targeted early literacy service plan to pre-schoolers, families and caregivers
ü In 2011 we received a grant for $18,000 + from the Community Foundation of the LowCountry to create a training kit that included board books, resources and a DVD on best practices for providing early literacy tools for parents, guardians, and caregivers.
ü The program, WeeRead, debuted in the Hilton Head and Bluffton branches and will be expanded north of the Broad this year.
At the conclusion of 2012:
·         585 children have participated in some capacity (Summer Reading and/or Story times) along with 467 adults.
·         77 story times have been given.
·         We held 23 training sessions.
·         383 surveys indicated that parents, guardians and caregivers felt that the program was worthwhile.
Continue and expand involvement with the Born to Read Program with funding from the Friends
ü Although we continue to participate in this program we may face some difficulty in expanding the service as the Friends groups are experiencing reduced to support this program.
ü New card registrations increased from 45 in 2011 to 60 in 2012.
By the end of 2012, establish a homework help program through system-led research, development and implementation
ü In 2012 we received a Library Services and Technology Act grant for $2,500.00 that enabled us to hire a consultant to help us develop a model program. Ms. Suzy Lange provided a detailed report that included a recommendation to purchase the 24/7 live homework help product, Brainfuse. 
ü Brainfuse is now available on our website and usage is beginning to climb as of January 2013.
ü Pilot Homework Centers were opened in 2012 in St. Helena and Beaufort.  St. Helena’s program is active and providing homework help every Saturday.  Customer response to Beaufort’s Center was unsatisfactory and the center closed in November 2012.  Subsequent to the setting of this goal in 2011, the United Way created a Women’s Leadership Council that has recruited an impressive number of volunteer tutors to provide reading assistance in the early grades.  Additionally, Title 1 schools are able to provide free tutoring services to children eligible for the school lunch program.  Thus, we have suspended plans to establish homework centers south of the Broad as we feel we are duplicating services and our limited resources should be redirected as a result.
Partner with the Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry and other literacy organizations to provide tutoring space for ESL and other literacy volunteers
ü One of our reference managers is on the Board of the Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry.
ü Space is available at our branches for tutoring.
Work with the Literacy Volunteers of the LowCountry to establish an adult literacy collection in all branches
ü Our staff member, who is on the Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry Board, is assisting in developing recommendations for a core collection.  However, due to budget realities, we are going to pursue grant opportunities for funding of literacy collections.

To read the announcement from IMLS, click Everyone On! Libraries Play Essential Role in Connect2Compete Campaign.  

Jan O'Rourke, Assistant Director of the Beaufort County Library system, stands ready to answer any questions you might have about our current Strategic Plan and our plans for preparing another one to begin in 2014.  Contact: jorourke@bcgov.net; 843-255-6464.

1 comment:

Traci said...

This is great. And what better place to learn than the library? We have great “teachers” among library staff who continue to do a great job instructing library customers how to use technology on a daily basis.