PROGRAMS WE SUPPORT
Homework help is consistently one of the most requested services at the Alameda County Library. Many young people lack access to homework help at home and cannot afford the high cost of private tutoring. The Library’s six Homework Centers provide high quality, one-on-one homework assistance to children and youth in communities throughout Alameda County. The Homework Centers accommodate more than 8,000 student visits per year, providing one-on-one help through paid staff and volunteers. New this year is an online tutoring program that provides youth with access to accredited tutors who are well-versed in the full range of academic subjects, including high school and honors level. Any young person with a library card can access this help-from the Homework Centers, their homes, or any other place with an Internet connection.
Summer Reading Programs
The Summer Reading Program for children, teens and adults, engages the entire community in the life-enhancing activity of reading.
Each year, Alameda County’s Summer Reading Game engages more than 12,000 children and teens in reading. On average, children who read no books over the summer lose 3 months in reading achievement during that time. By the time they are in the sixth grade, this reading loss translates to a full 18 months–significantly impeding academic progress and chances for later academic success. The Summer Reading Program provides a fun, low-cost–but highly effective–way to maintain, and often improve, reading skills over the summer.
P.U.L.S.E. (Pop-Up Library Services for Everyone)
With a focus on ensuring access to library services and books for children, P.U.L.S.E. has sites at two county jails, a multidisciplinary service center for families impacted by domestic violence, the County’s child support services office, and at a shelter for homeless families. P.U.L.S.E. serves children and their families who are less likely to use their traditional neighborhood library and is an important part of the Library’s efforts to create access to resources and services that are so essential to early literacy development. The program directly speaks to the Library’s mission to provide and protect access to books, information and services that promote learning and enjoyment for everyone.
Start With A Story
Start With A Story provides books, story times, and outreach to the hundreds of children who visit their parents at two Alameda County Jails: Santa Rita in Dublin and Glenn Dyer in Oakland. An Alameda County Librarian who runs the jail’s inmate literacy services initiated Start With A Story in early 2007 after watching children wait in line for hours — often an entire day — to spend a few minutes with their incarcerated parents. She recognized the untapped opportunity to provide literacy outreach to these youngsters.
Start With A Story operates at the jail on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Volunteers staff a table with a wide selection of books catering to a range of ages and interests. Each child visiting the table may choose a book to keep. Volunteers often read to the children. Start With A Story helps youngsters improve their reading skills, become more interested in reading, and learn more about library services and programs.
Start With A Story also helps encourage regular family visits to the jail by making the visits a more pleasant experience. Research has found that frequent and regular family visitation can greatly reduce the trauma experienced by the child as a result of the separation while also improving the inmate’s potential for a successful parole after release from prison. However, jails can be frightening and cold places for children to visit, often providing noisy, crowded visiting areas. Children are often relegated to many long hours of waiting at the jail for a brief visit with an incarcerated parent or guardian.Start With A Story offers these children the most precious of all opportunities: the chance to escape inside a good book.
In the coming year, Start With A Story plans to distribute over 2,600 books to children and youth visiting parents at Santa Rita Jail.
Getting very young children, including toddlers and even infants, “hooked” on reading very early in life can lead to life-long love of reading and the possibilities it creates. To help foster a love of books and reading among the very young, Toddler Times are offered regularly at most library branches and include stories, songs and fingerplays. At the end of each storytime, age appropriate books are available for check-out to continue nurturing a love of reading, at home.
Write to Read Youth Literacy Program at Juvenile Hall Literacy
To help fulfill its mission Write to Read operates a well-stocked main library in Juvenile Hall as well as small libraries in each of the Hall’s 12 living units. As one of only six fully-functioning library programs in juvenile detention facilities throughout the U.S., Write to Read provides youth with opportunities to transform themselves through the power of books, reading, writing and literacy.
Write to Read Adult Literacy Program
The Alameda County library’s innovative Adult Literacy Program, Write to Read, provides educational opportunities to adults who want to improve their literacy skills. By creating a supportive and vibrant learning community, we provide a safe environment for reading and writing practice where individuals take risks and grow toward leadership to make positive changes in their lives and communities. Students build strong literacy skills for work, family and lifelong learning.
Free tutoring and small group instruction are offered at most of our branch libraries and in community locations. Students in the program are English speakers from both the U.S. and other countries. What all students have in common is an interest in using reading and writing skills more comfortably in their lives.
Our teachers are professional educators and our tutors are patient and dedicated individuals ready to help students meet their goals. The program also offers teaching opportunities for creative, responsible volunteers and student interns enrolled in teaching programs.
Older Adult Programs
Older adults, who many times have a lifetime love of books and libraries, are some of the most faithful and regular users of the Library. The Library has developed a wide range of services and activities for older adults, including the Homeword Bound program, with volunteers delivering library material to shut-ins. The Older Adult Programs provide speakers encouraging life-long learning, health and wellness, local history programs and exciting travel video programs. Also available is a large collections of large-print books and books on CD for those who are visually challenged. The Foundation supports Older Adult Services with grants and program funding.
Tech-it-Out kiosks provide a streamlined process to storing, charging and checking out laptops and iPads. The Tech-it-Out Kiosk is an electronic device storage, charging and checkout unit. These kiosks, which can store up to 32 laptops and iPads at a time, provides patrons with easy access to devices. The kiosk stores, recharges, wipes, checks out and checks in laptops and iPads with little or no staff intervention. The kiosks also link directly to the Library’s automated catalog system and patron records which makes for a better overall patron experience.
By funding special performances and other programs, the Foundation helps the Library fulfill its mission of providing recreational opportunities as well as knowledge and literacy skills. Each year, tens of thousands of adults, children and families attend a wide variety of events that can range from magic and puppet shows to financial workshops.
The Foundation has also provided support for a Bay Area-wide campaign each April to promote National Library Week, including colorful transit bus “tails,” public service announcements, banners and special programming. Children’s Book Week Plus in November is another opportunity for the Foundation to provide support for programming.
A large part of what makes Alameda County so unique is its rich cultural diversity. Supporters of the Library speak at least 56 different languages, so an ongoing goal is to provide materials that reflect this diversity and foster understanding.