For immediate release | June 21, 2010

The American Dream Starts @ your library this summer

CHICAGO- Thanks to the American Library Association and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s The American Dream Starts @ your library program, 75 public libraries in 24 states received $5,000 grants to grow or develop literacy programs for adult English language learners.

Some of the American Dream libraries immediately launched new programs and services for adult English language learners and their families. The rest are waiting until fall to begin their programs and classes.

In May, the Bentonville (Ark.) Public Library hosted its first United States Naturalization Ceremony. Thirty Benton County residents from 14 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to become United States citizens.

The Friends of North Port (Fla.) Library recently honored local Dollar General store manager Denise Rafn. Friends of the Library used the ceremony to encourage and support its local Dollar General store’s involvement with the library’s American Dream program.

Berwyn (Ill.) Public Library recently hosted its first Monday evening adult English as a Second Language (ESL) conversation class, with a group of 15 adult English language learners. The library provided childcare to make attendance and participation easier for busy adults with families.

The Kewanee (Ill.) Public Library purchased new computers and software for their bi-weekly adult English language classes. The computers and software are available at all times, encouraging students to practice their new skills between classes.

Independence (Kan.) Public Library created a computer lab for its weekly ESL classes. The computer lab provides access to Mango Languages, foreign language software that offers tutorials on 11 different languages, including ESL.

The Boone County (Ky.) Public Library is partnering with Boone County Public Schools on the English Learners Family Involvement Program. The program includes a series of workshops for parents and children and uses interactive LeaPad© learning tools.

The Russell County Public Library of Jamestown, Ky., has teamed up with the local adult education center to provide ESL classes. One class has already taken place, with six students making one grade level worth of progress in six weeks.

Hamtramck (Mich.) Public Library launched its ESL summer reading program titled Dive into English on Friday, June 18. This program introduced 43 participants to the ESL teacher, conversation group leaders and librarians.

Charlotte Mecklenburg (N.C.) Library completed its first two Spanish language computer classes. These classes are designed to provide access to computers, along with workforce development training.

The Vineland (N.J.) Public Library completed training for its first group of volunteer ESL tutors. Tutors are currently working with Spanish speakers, as well as individuals from China, Russia, the Ukraine and other countries.

The Eva K. Bowlby Public Library of Waynesburg, Pa. offers one-on-one literacy classes to both children and adults.

Arlington Reads is the literacy program of the Arlington (Texas) Public Library System. Their classes focus on ESL literacy, computer literacy and numeracy as these skills relate to the workplace.

The Little Elm (Texas) Public Library is expanding its Open Doors With Literacy @ your library program. The program began with an adult basic literacy class and has expanded to include an ESL class.

To learn more about what other American Dream libraries are doing this summer and planning for the fall, visit The American Dream Starts @ your library website at

The 2005 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) found that 11 million US adults – about one in 20 – have such limited English skills that they can’t read a newspaper, understand the directions for medication, or help their children with schoolwork. Recent immigrants account for most of this group. To meet this need, ALA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation joined together to start The American Dream Starts @ your library literacy initiative.

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

Dollar General Literacy Foundation is a Partner in the Campaign for America’s Libraries, ALA’s public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians. Thousands of libraries of all types – across the country and around the globe - use the Campaign’s @ your library® brand. The Campaign is made possible in part by ALA’s Library Champions, corporations and foundations.

Other Partners include Carnegie Corporation of New York, Disney Book Group, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Univision Radio and Woman’s Day magazine.


Megan McFarlane