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Building an Adult Literacy Program at your Library
An Infopeople Online Learning Course
Course Instructor: Jane Salisbury
- Do you want to serve the adult learners in your community who are seeking to learn to read or improve their language skills?
- Are you interested in offering practical literacy programs that support life goals such as citizenship, higher education, English language skills and job readiness?
- Do you want to welcome adult new readers and speakers of English to the community of library users?
As a result of interrupted education, poverty, immigrant and refugee status, learning disabilities and other barriers, adult literacy is a serious problem for about one-fifth of the adults in the United States. Libraries are well situated to offer literacy help to the adults who need it in their communities. Tutoring, book groups, citizenship classes, and conversation groups are all natural ways to use the library's resources of space, talent and collections to help adults achieve their goals.
This course will explain how to survey the literacy situation in your community, decide where your library can be useful, plan initiatives, recruit volunteers and build a sustainable adult literacy program at your library. Additionally it will provide an overview of adult literacy, statistics and programs in the United States.
As a result of the course, you'll be able to:
- Understand the meaning and importance of literacy, in the country and in your community
- Assess what your community needs and what your library can do
- Build practical library programs, using volunteers, staff and partners
- Measure success and advocate for library literacy programs
Course Description: During this four-week online course, you will have a chance to learn about the adult literacy landscape in the United States and your community, and a variety of ways that you can plan and implement practical literacy programs in your library. A variety of assignments will give you opportunities to apply concepts to your own library situation. You will be able to participate in discussion forums and attend a live online meeting on Tuesday April 11 @ noon Pacific with Melissa Madenski, adult literacy expert, teacher and experienced library literacy program coordinator. Your instructor will be there to facilitate the sharing of your experiences and knowledge. Resources will be provided for further reading and explorations.
Course Outline: When you log in to the Infopeople online learning site, you will see weekly modules with these topics:
- Week 1: What is Adult Literacy?
- What adult literacy is, and what effect literacy level has on the lives of adults
- Literacy statistics in the United States
- Implications of low literacy in crucial aspects of adult life: jobs, citizenship, parenting, social, cultural and religious life
- Literacy rates and challenges in their own communities
- Week 2: What does your community need, and is the library the best provider?
- Adult literacy needs in your communities
- Identifying the existing adult literacy resources in your own community
- Developing a strategy for partnerships in order to work effectively with community literacy providers
- How to decide what kinds of programs to pilot: what capacity you have, what your library is already doing and what gaps your library can fill
- Week 3: What programs should your library plan and present? What should your collection look like?
- Planning and presenting appropriate adult literacy programs
- Developing an adult literacy collection to support patrons and programs at your library
- Identifying the best online resources for adult learners
- Exemplary programs from around the country
- Starting small and growing slowly
- Week 4: How to run your program: staffing, volunteers, partners, grants, materials and more
- Recruiting and training volunteers to provide literacy services (tutoring, teaching, facilitating, supporting)
- Advocating effectively for literacy programming
- Measuring the success of your adult literacy program
Time Required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend 2½ hours per week, for a total of ten course hours. Each week's module contains readings and various options for assignments, discussions, or online meetings. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week's work within that week to stay in sync with other learners.
There will be one live online meeting in this course. It will be held on Tuesday April 11 @noon Pacific. Please plan your schedule accordingly. (The meeting will be archived but you are strongly encouraged to attend in real time to derive maximum benefit from interaction with the instructor.)
Who Should Take This Course: Library managers, program staff, outreach staff and volunteer coordinators staff who want to learn about adult literacy, the library's role in supporting adult learners, and how to plan programming to serve those learners in the library.
Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at: infopeople.org/training/online_learning_details.
After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.
Keywords: adult programming, adult services, literacy