CHICAGO — Through an American Dream Starts @ your library grant provided by the American Library Association’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Eisenhower Public Library District in Norridge and Harwood Heights, Ill. has been able to expand its ESL collection and to begin hosting English language learning programs.
The library serves a diverse array of foreign language speakers, with more than 50 percent of its residents speaking a language other than English in the home, including Polish, Italian and Spanish.
Penny Blubaugh, teen and programming librarian, said, “It’s a very diverse population. We’re almost like the first community you come to, a welcoming community to the United States almost. The population often shifts out, and somebody else comes in.”
It has a large collection of foreign language materials in both the Adult Services area and Kids World.
Eisenhower currently collects French, Italian, Polish and Spanish books and has one of the most extensive Polish collections in the Chicago area. These materials include translations of popular English language authors as well as works originally created in other languages.
Through the grant, the library has been able to implement a program entitled “Eisenhower Speaks Your Language.”
The library offers English as a Second Language iPods. Patrons can check them out and learn on their own. The program is also available on CD to use on their computers. The available courses are English for Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, French, German, Haitian, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Portugese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
It also offers programs through the Immigration and Naturalization Service that resulted in the creation of an immigration kit.
“They have been incredibly helpful,” Blubaugh said.”Immigration was thrilled with them, and the people who attended and came out were so happy with these programs.”
Blubaugh said the library is continuing the program and is trying to increase its collection of foreign language books, especially in Italian, Arabic, Spanish and Polish.
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.