The “I am ALA” feature on the ALA homepage will spotlight ALA members and the work they do. These segments may be picked up by other ALA-related media, such as AL Direct and www.ilovelibraries.org. If you’re willing to participate—and we hope you are—we’ll need the following:
Impact on Reading and Literacy
“An Economic Valuation Study Of Public Libraries In Korea”. Library And Information Science Research 34 (2): 117-124.. 2012.
“Change In School Librarian Staffing Linked With Change In Csap Reading Performance, 2005 To 2011”. Denver, CO: Colorado State Library, Library Research Service. http://www.lrs.org/documents/closer_look/CO4_2012_Closer_Look_Report.pdf.. 2012.
Using CV, this study shows that the average student on the academic campus of VCU values reference desk services at approximately $5.59 per semester. The average member of the instructional faculty values this service at $45.76 per year. No attempt was made to estimate the value that university staff and the general public place on reference desk service. Given reasonable assumptions about the cost of service, students and faculty place a value on the current hours of reference desk service that exceeds the cost by a ratio of 3.5 to 1 (pp. 67-68).
The free-flowing nature of the library also allowed for parents to actively participate in their children’s reading. Noting the lack of literacy programs available for children at the shelter and in the community, one mother talked about the public library as being the place she could take her children to support their literacy development... Library attendance served as a springboard for parents to communicate messages about the expectations that they had for their children as readers. As institutions, libraries supported literacy events that tie to the larger cultural practices of coming together as part of a community. (p. 232).
Public libraries are an important entry point to community services for new Americans. Programs provided through public libraries can serve as a portal to a wide range of community resources that are vital to a family’s economic self-sufficiency. Services to new Americans often involve English language classes; intergenerational literacy, foreign language GED instruction, and other basic skills training. Public libraries often serve as informal referral centers as well, directing immigrants to area support services (p. 15).
A significant amount of workforce development activity in local libraries centers on job search skills, basic computer instruction and workplace literacy. Ninety-two percent (92%) of the libraries answering the survey provide basic computer instruction on a regular basis (at least monthly); 50% of the libraries provide workplace literacy instruction; and 42% provide workplace literacy instruction specifically to English language learners. Most of these literacy training and other specialized workshops are provided in library facilities, though often conducted in partnership with local agencies (p. 14).
The Oceano Branch of the San Luis Obispo (SLO) City-County Public Library system is the first (SLO) branch library to implement the Raising a Reader Program. The newly opened branch, which is situated on a site next to the Oceano Elementary School and an adult learning center, is well positioned to provide services to both parents and their children. The program, which is partially supported by First 5 of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, targets children and their families living in the predominantly Hispanic community surrounding Oceano Elementary School. The project is part of a broad initiative to provide educational support to parents, provide preschool and childcare, operate kindergarten transition programs, coordinate existing health and social services, and encourage schools to be ready for children, and vice versa. A preliminary review of the program results conducted by First 5 of San Luis Obispo indicate that the program is having a significant impact on the way parents approach learning in the household. Parents surveyed after three months of program participation reported statistically significant changes in the amount they read to their children (from 59% at baseline to 85%), their perceived importance of such reading (from 8.9% at baseline to 9.8%), and their increased use of the library system (from 38% at baseline to 69%) (First 5 SLO 2005) (p. 11).
Because community engagement has value, involvement of library volunteers from the communities includes benefits for volunteers in terms of enhancing their confidence, skills and levels of employability.