The Rotary Club of Jamestown welcomed Anne Greene, literacy librarian at the James Prendergast Library, to its recent weekly Monday meeting at the Robert Jackson Center.
Ms. Greene is the manager of the Public Computer Center and coordinator of the Library Literacy Center and holds bachelors and masters degrees in social work and is a graduate of Texas Women's University with a masters of library science degree.
The local library's involvement in literacy education resulted from the initial 1980 Literacy Volunteers of America program that began in a local church with only a few volunteers. Later, the program relocated to the Prendergast Library due to its growth and increased need and since that time has grown significantly. The program has 23 student/tutor matches and continues to grow.
Anne Greene, James Prendergast Library literacy librarian, pictured at left, was welcomed to the Rotary Club of Jamestown’s weekly speaker’s platform by Lisa Goodell, club literacy committee chairman.
Ms. Greene told the audience that 12 percent of the population in Chautauqua County and 22 percent of the population in New York state lack basic prose literacy and 14 percent nationwide at below basic level in prose literacy, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2005. In Chautauqua County in 2009, only 71 percent of high school seniors received a high school diploma.
Students at the Literacy Center are people who want to learn to read; who want to improve their reading skills; who need English as a second language; who just lost a job and need to gain skills for new employment and people who are taking the GED or returning to college and need help with math or other areas of study.
The Literacy Center offers: placement testing for reading, math and English as a Second Language; a tutor and appropriate materials; individual assistance; encouragement, positive reinforcement and support; reading, writing, math, GED preparation, job search assistance, resume writing skills; and needs assessment for successful learning.
Volunteer tutors are the backbone of the program. Each tutor must complete a 12-hour tutor training prior to being assigned to a student which is based on various factors such as personality, special skills and talents, the student's needs, availability and location. Guidance is provided by Ms. Greene throughout the tutor/student relationship. The tutor/student pair meets in a neutral place at times and length of sessions that are up to the student/tutor pair, with the length of the study varying with the student's needs.
Eight students have recently advanced in the literacy reading series (there are four skill levels). Three ESL students have "graduated." Two students have found jobs; two students are working on resume writing; one student has been accepted into Jamestown Business College after months of math tutoring; and eight students now possess library cards.
The promotion of literacy worldwide is one of the major thrusts of Rotary International and the local clubs have supported the library by purchasing books and materials for the Literacy Program as well as handing out free books to children along the DJDC's Holiday Parade route. The library's literacy collection is continuously evaluated to add appropriate, interesting reading materials. Student skills workbooks can only be used once so there is need for constant replacement.
Ms. Greene invited volunteers to sign up for the next tutor training, which will be held in February.
The Prendergast Library also has just recently opened its new Public Computer Center to help the unemployed and the underemployed with technical support and resources to assist with job searching and career advancement. Through the center's access to high speed broadband, users can advance the use of e-services for training, employment, digital literacy and education. The library provides classes in career databases, materials and computer use at no cost for those wishing to improve job related skills. Classes include: introduction to computers; introduction to file management; introduction to word processing; and resume writing/interviewing skills with instructors from Jamestown Community College and BOCES.
The center provides access to information from the Institute for Career Research which has complete, un-biased information on 350 career fields and thousands of jobs. The program includes an interest assessment test to determine suitable careers by aptitude. Extensive, secure, reliable links to associations and periodicals provide a wealth of career information.
The center's use of OPTIMALRESUME.com helps job seekers find employment faster by helping build better resumes and cover letters, managing an online portfolio, honing interview skills, and developing a personal brand online. Once the resume is established in the database, employers can search resumes for candidates and contact them to set up an online interview or videoconference.
LearningExpress is available on the library's homepage under Databases which can be used within the library or remotely. The site offers practice tests, exercises and skill-building for careers in electrical, plumbing, air traffic control and military aviation and ebooks to help prepare for careers in civil service, education, allied healthcare and more. The Public Computer Center website is prendergastlibrary.org, then click on PCC Lab to link to the databases from home, see the class schedule, check the career advancement links and find out what materials are available.