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Posts Tagged ‘literacy’

Public Libraries Make a Difference: 5 Key Benefits of Summer Education Programs

Public libraries perform a key role in the education and development of young learners through summer education programs.

Summer vacation threatens to reverse many of the achievement gains that students—and teachers—worked so hard to reach during the previous school year. Low-income students are especially vulnerable to the “summer slide.” According to the Young Adult Library Services Association, low-income students “lose more than two months in math skills and reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.” Summer education programs can stop the summer slide.

 

Public libraries that offer dynamic summer educations provide these five key benefits:

1. Foster a Love of Reading

To foster a lifelong love of reading, summer reading programs offer incentives for kids to read multiple books during the summer. This summer, the New York Public Library is encouraging kids to read by challenging them to enter an essay contest where they write about how the book they are reading or how books in general help make the world a better place. The winners will see the Yankees, meet a player, and take a bow on the field.

2. Close the Achievement Gap

Summer educational programs help reduce the achievement gap experienced during the summer months. This is especially critical for low-income children who may have other opportunities available. In 2010, a study carried out at Dominican University found that:

• Students who participated in the public library summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participate and they gained in other ways as well.

• Students who participated in the public library summer reading program had better reading skills at the end of third grade and scored higher on the standards test than the students who did not participate.

3. Provide Much-Needed Meals

Children from low-income areas may spend all day at the library because their parents are working and cannot afford to enroll them in a camp or provide childcare. Children who depend on free or reduced-price lunch programs during the school year are at risk of hunger during the summer months. And when kids are hungry, they are not receptive to learning. Many libraries provide meals alongside enriching programs involving craft, games, music, and movies. Lunch at the Library is an organization that “provides library staff with the tools and support they need to develop successful public library summer meal programs that provide children and teens in low-income communities with free and nutritious lunches through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.”

4. Offer STEM/Hands-On Education

According to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), students need 21st-century skills to prepare for college and career. YALSA recommends a broad learning program for summer and a focus on STEM with hands-on activities that capture the interest of children and teenagers. The Orange County Library System in central Florida, offers camps, classes, and programs during the summer with many hands-on learning opportunities. Technology camps offer the opportunities for kids to learn engineering, robotics & electronics, graphic design, audio & video production, sewing, knitting, weaving, space exploration, and more.

5. Enable Teen Volunteer Opportunities

The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s 2017 theme is Build a Better World. One of the best ways teens can build a better world is by giving back to their community through volunteering at their local library during the summer. Teen volunteers at the Kirkwood Public Library in Missouri make flyers, do prep work for activities, help with summer reading programs, and become reading buddies to kids.

Public libraries provide key services to children during the summer months and all year long, often partnering with local schools to make sure students have the resources they need to succeed. They truly make a difference in their communities.

Support public libraries and join the American Library Association’s effort to save library funding. #saveIMLS

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National Library Week: 6 Mobile Libraries Bring Books to the World

Americans like me who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s (in other words–old!) are likely to fondly remember bookmobiles. In some small or rural communities, they were the only way to borrow books. Today, there are less than 1,000 bookmobiles in use in the U.S. That could be because more than 306 million people in the U.S. lived within a public library service area in 2014. And anyone with a computer or smartphone can get free access to e-books and audiobooks, as well as the printed versions, from their local library.

But in other parts of the world, it’s not so easy. In many countries, there are very few public libraries, and in some, even schools don’t have books or libraries. And with only 35 percent of the world’s population connected to the internet, there are vast numbers of people–especially children–who have no way to gain access to books. In honor of National Library Week, this post explores six visionary mobile libraries that go to great lengths to promote the love of reading and literacy throughout their little part of the globe.

Argentina: Arma de Instruccion Masiva

In Argentina, the artist Raul Lemesoff converted a green 1979 Ford Falcon purchased from the Argentine armed forces into a tank-like vehicle with enough shelf space for 900 books, offering everything from novels to poetry. Lemesoff was inspired to build his Arma de Instruccion Masiva (Weapon of Mass Instruction) as a way of counteracting fear with education. On World Book Day in March 2015, he drove around the urban centers and rural communities of Argentina, offering free books to people on the street, as long as they promised to read them.

Colombia: Biblioburro

In 1990, a primary school teacher in Colombia named Luis Soriano Bohorquez was inspired to save rural children in Colombia’s Magdalena province from illiteracy. Every Saturday at dawn, Luis sets out to 15 select villages with his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto (their names combined translate to “alphabet”). Luis rides Alfa up to four hours each way, with Beto following behind carrying a sitting blanket and more books. Children get homework help, learn to read or listen to stories and geography lessons that he prepares. Soriano started his library with just 70 books from his own collection. Thanks to donations, he now has some 4,800 books piled up in his little house in the small town of La Gloria. In 2011, PBS made a documentary film about his work, Biblioburro: The Donkey Library.

Biblioburro, Traveling Library in Colombia
By Acción Visual/Diana Arias [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Italy: Bibliomotocarro

In 2003, retired teacher Antonio La Cava realized that children in the local villages of the Basilicata region in southern Italy didn’t have easy access to books. He bought a used Piaggio Ape motorbike van and modified it, creating the Bibliomotocarro (the Library Motor Car). The small, bright blue vehicle resembles a tiny house–including a Spanish-tiled roof, a chimney, and large glass windows that display the over 1,200 books inside. There are also built-in speakers to play the organ music he uses to announce his arrival. Each month, he travels over 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) to eight different villages, where children gather in the squares to wait for him.

Mongolia: Children’s Mobile Library

Dashdondog Jamba is a children’s book writer and publisher and has translated more than fifty children’s books by foreign writers into Mongolian. His Children’s Mobile Library transports books to children in the remote regions of the Gobi desert, and throughout every province of Mongolia. Since the early 1990’s, he has faced the challenges of mountainous terrain and severe weather conditions to travel over 50,000 miles by camel, on horseback, on carts pulled by horses or oxen, and more recently, with a van. Assisted by his wife and son, they often remain in one place for several days to allow as many children as possible to read the books.

Norway: Bokbaten Epos

In a coastal country that includes many islands and islets, with remote hamlets located along the fjords, the sea is often the easiest way to reach some communities. In 1959, a group of librarians in Hordaland pioneered the concept of a floating library. At first, a refurbished tobacco cutter was used, and it was an immediate success. In 1963, a larger 85-foot boat was specially built to serve as the seafaring mobile library. The new vessel also offers cultural programs such as films, plays, puppet shows and visits with authors. Bokbaten Epos (the Library Boat) carries about 6,000 books to the residents of 150 small communities in three counties along the West coast of Norway who don’t have their own libraries.

Bokbåten Epos

Bokbåten Epos by Andrva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan: Bright Star Mobile Library

When Saeed Malik returned to his home country of Pakistan in 2004 after working for the United Nations World Food Program for 35 years, he learned that most government and private elementary schools in the rural areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory did not have library services or books of their own. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library in 2011 to introduce young Pakistanis to the world of reading and books. Four refurbished U.N. jeeps make weekly visits to about 20 elementary schools in the outskirts of the capital city, carrying over 1,000 books and serving nearly 6,000 young students.

 

Libraries Transform. Whether a library is on land, sea, or even donkey, those who bring books and resources to their local community are truly agents of transformation.

How are you celebrating National Library Week? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest.

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Where Writing Can Take You This Summer

"Tell Your Story." Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

“Tell Your Story.” Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

Creative writing, poetry, fiction, short stories and so many other types of expressive writing are sometimes taken for granted in school when rigid educational standards and testing are prioritized. Writing, however, is a skill that goes hand in hand with reading and literacy and should be practiced in all forms including creative ones. Crafting a story from the imagination is a talent that cultivates creative thinking and should be encouraged. Whether you’re just starting to write, college-bound, working or interested in taking a writing class, opportunities are endless. You may be surprised at how many doors will open when you know how to craft stories and poetry. This summer, challenge yourself to start writing and see where it can take you. As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Here are five wonderful places where writing can take you this summer:

1. Writing poetry can lead you to compete:

If you have an interest in writing poetry, there are contests and competitions you may want to check out. Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest is one in particular that awards you and doesn’t require an entry fee. The contest is held bi-annually and you can enter as many times as you wish. Non-rhyming verse is preferred.

2. Writing can encourage you to craft your talent:

Sometimes writing camps are good options for young writers who want to attend a program over the summer. You meet other like-minded writers and get to have your work critiqued. One such program offered by the Emerging Writers Institute allows 10th-12th graders to craft works of poetry, fiction, plays and more under the guidance of talented instructors. This particular program is housed in residence at top universities and dates are available in 2-week time-frames throughout the summer.

3. Writing can inspire you to visit the local library:

Believe it or not, your library does offer writing workshops and classes over the summer. Chances are it also offers these services year-round. Check with your local librarian to find out what writing classes and events are being offered in your hometown. Once you start writing, you may visit the library more often to find new books to inform your writing. Also check out National Novel Writing Month in November and see what you can do to prepare for it this summer.

4. Writing can take you on a travel adventure:

Sometime in the course of your education, you may get an opportunity to study abroad. Writers have many options available to them to do this. One program to consider is the Prague Summer Program for Writers which now operates as an independent entity. Being able to apply directly removes the obstacle of being enrolled at a specific university. If this program isn’t right for you, there are lots of others. Beginning a writing journey this summer can prepare you for a study abroad adventure next summer!

5. Writing can teach you about yourself:

The terms “writer” and “introvert” are often associated together. This does not mean every writer is an introvert or every introverted person is automatically a writer. The association comes from society’s idea that if you write, you are more attuned with your inner self and thus able to channel that better with words. I have learned that writing can teach you a lot about yourself and your inner voice. The more you write, the better you become at listening to what it’s trying to tell you. Let your words be your guide and you will always find your way. The New York Times op-ed “Writing My Way to a New Self” by Hana Schank provides a firsthand account of how this sentiment is illustrated by writing.

Where is writing leading you? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

2nd Annual FAME Unconference

As editors, we love to get out of the office and go to industry events! So two of us were super excited on June 26 to attend a free event hosted by the the Florida Association for Media in Education–the 2nd Annual FAME Unconference at Palm Beach Gardens High School, FL.

Collaboration

Dynamic discussion during FAME Unconference (Credit: Michelle Jarrett)

An unconference is a meeting that is informal and loosely structured so attendees can learn from one another on a peer-to-peer level through teaching, sharing and collaboration. This is an awesome way to learn new technologies and best practices and falls in line with FAME’s mission:

FAME advocates for every student in Florida to be involved in and have open access to a quality school library media program administered by a highly competent, certified library media specialist. FAME is a collaborative, responsive, dynamic network for Florida library media professionals.

The unconference started with us gathered as a group to shout out what we most wanted to discuss. Then we broke out into smaller groups for in-depth discussion and collaboration. Insights were recorded on poster boards and tweeted at #FAME14. No need for notes–just take a pic with your smart phone. This is our kind of note taking!

Attendees hailed from various regions of Florida and included those who oversaw elementary, middle and high school libraries. Regardless of differing locations, grade levels, and available budgets, we witnessed a group of professionals with one quality in common: a passion for their craft. They all love their jobs as the information leaders in their schools.

FAME Unconference

2nd Annual FAME Unconference: A Place for Connection and Collaboration
Created with PicMonkey. Credit: Christie Riegelhaupt and Michelle Jarrett.

Because of their passion and a vulnerable school budget climate, advocacy was the most important topic of the day. When there are budget cuts in school districts,  this group wanted to make sure that media specialist jobs are not cut or replaced with volunteers. As many in the group explained,  the only way to ensure job security is for education administrators and legislators to be fully informed of the essential role a media specialist plays in the school. Media specialists don’t just check out books and read stories to children. A media specialist offers valuable resources and support for the classroom and curriculum, teaches students how to critically evaluate online resources, aids in transforming students into lifelong learners, and so much more.

Advocacy Infographic

AASL’s Advocacy Infographic

ALA and AASL’s advocacy pages were recommended as excellent resources for media specialists to build awareness of their pivotal role in education.

Other topics discussed included eBooks, makerspaces, benchmarks, QR codes and success stories. A thread throughout each topic was a keen interest in acquiring the best resources for their school, and then promoting those resources so they are utilized and meet the needs of students. One example was a tip to use QR codes in card inserts in the stacks to promote eBooks. Another popular best practice was to give out necklaces where students can earn one charm per each book they read. Even in high schools, students wore their necklaces proudly.

The media specialists spent a hot summer day in South Florida and left with some hot tips they can take back to their media centers this fall. The students at their schools are very fortunate to have such dedicated educators working on their behalf!

Teen Read Week

So much can be found at your school and public library with librarians as your guide.

Every year the Young Adult Library Services Association sponsors Teen Read Week. According to YALSA: “Teen Read Week™ is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually during the third week of October. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users. Teen Read Week’s sub-theme for this year is Seek the Unknown @ your library, which encourages teens to explore and learn about the unknown through mystery, adventure, sci-fi, and fantasy books.”

ProQuest products are here for you as you embark on your reading adventure and provide several useful stepping stones to learn about authors and literary works. On eLibrary, Research Topics focus on science fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. SIRS Discoverer features fantasy in literature and science fiction research as well as biographies of several well-known authors. For a quick read, several e-books are housed on SIRS Discoverer on the Nonfiction books feature. As a teen, read what interests and excites you. Explore new worlds in books!