New Jersey libraries team up to teach valuable language skills through American Dream Starts @ your library grant

For Immediate Release
Tue, 07/15/2014

Contact:

Steve Zalusky
Manager of Communications
Public Information Office
312-280-1546
szalusky@ala.org

CHICAGO Three New Jersey libraries are teaming for results in the area of community engagement.

Through an American Dream Starts @ your library grant provided by the American Library Association and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, three Essex (N.J.) County libraries - Bloomfield, Montclair, and South Orange - have established a partnership to provide literacy assistance to all Essex County residents.

The county’s libraries serve a population diverse in background, ethnicity, economic status, and education. Roughly one-third of its population speaks a language other than English. South Orange in particular has seen an influx of Haitian immigrants actively seeking English language learning.

Through their partnership, and in conjunction with the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA), the public libraries of Essex County provided publicity and space for volunteer training, instruction, conversation groups, and individual/small group tutoring. 

The initiative values new ideas and offers ample opportunity for outreach and collaboration with community organizations such as The Adult School of South Orange and Maplewood, which promoted the program to target populations.

 “With the American Dream Starts @ your library funds, we were able to add much more to the ESL materials than we had before,” said Lindita Cani, head of reference and library services for the South Orange Public Library. These materials included DVDs and CD-Roms.

“People use them a lot,” she said. “It’s…made our life easier. We didn’t have the funds before to purchase more materials.”

The South Orange program joins a cohort of over 100 previously funded American Dream libraries. These libraries have built easily replicable programs, developed coalition-building strategies, and provided annotated lists of proven resources for libraries across the country serving adult English language learners. All American Dream libraries are located within 20 miles of a Dollar General Store, distribution center, or corporate office.

For more information on the libraries' activities, view this video. To learn more about The American Dream Starts @ your library please visit www.americandreamtoolkit.org.

About the ALA

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.

About Dollar General

Dollar General is a leading discount retailer with more than 8,800 neighborhood stores. Dollar General stores provide convenience and value to customers by offering consumable basic items such as food, snacks, health and beauty aids and cleaning supplies, as well as basic apparel, house wares and seasonal items at everyday low prices. The company has a longstanding tradition of supporting literacy and education. Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $40 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 2.1 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. To learn more about Dollar General, visit www.dollargeneral.com.