Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ready, Set, Reach Out

Technically summer is over in library world. Summer reading has ended and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library had a very successful summer reading program. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Director David Singleton reported, "This year, 17,868 children and teens participated in the library’s summer reading program, documenting 156,404 hours read.  And this year, a revitalized summer reading program for adults drew 4,299 participants (about 8 times more participants than in 2011!), with an emphasis on modeling reading behaviors for youth, and documenting 73,914 hours of reading. The total number of 22,167 registrations for Summer Reading this year represents an increase of about 26% over last year’s program, and the total 230,318 hours of reading represents an increase of about 25% over last year’s program."  
The Outreach department brought summer reading into the community. Youth  who could not get to our physical locations were still able to participate in our summer reading program. Youth also had library books to read at their summer camp locations and donated books to take home. We offered family workshops to encourage family reading and reduce the "Summer Slide." Participants looked forward to weekly library visits and the fun prizes that came along with reading. 

For the first time the department extended the Adult Summer Reading program to our Library by Mail participants.Twenty homebound adults participated and completed the program. Library by Mail program coordinator Connie Ellington said," Customers were very excited that they were included in the summer reading program. They loved earning prizes."  Library by Mail customer Michael D. said, "I want to thank you for how quickly you have been able to send out books that I have requested. This service made it possible for my daughter and I to be able to take advantage of library books again, since I can't drive anymore due to being paralyzed." Outreach Services continues to be a needed and valuable community service. It gives all citizens, no matter the circumstances, the opportunity to take advantage of library services and resources.

For more information on Library by Mail, contact:704.416.0552.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

She's Back.............And So is Summer Reading in Outreach

Welcome back Carmella Morrison. Carmella is working as a summer contract worker in the Outreach Department with one purpose only...to make sure at-risk students in underserved communities participate in the Library's Summer Reading Program. In a 2011 report by the New York State Library, “The Importance of Summer Reading" Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described summer learning loss as “devastating.” He further stated, "This is what researchers have often referred to as the “summer slide.” It is estimated that school summer breaks will cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students being disproportionately affected." In, "Summer Reading Programs Boost Student Achievement, Study Says," a School Library Journal Article (November 2010) stated, "Students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills." Charlotte Mecklenburg Library understands this achievement gap and the need to bring the library services to the community. Carmella visits several summer camps each week. She gives the students a wonderful literacy experience, which gets them excited about reading and books and she makes sure they are enrolled in the summer reading program and prepared to successfully complete the program. Successfully completing the program means children will have access to books and read for at least twenty minutes per day.

This year's summer reading program is on line, and the majority of the student's Carmella is serving do not have access to a computer or the Internet at home or in summer camp. When Carmella asked the students at the YWCA Reid Park location if they recorded their reading time on their reading record, ALL of the students stated they did not have a computer at home. Carmella made sure she recorded  what every student read,  how long they read, and she will manually update each student's reading record. Outreach services creates opportunities and access.

Carmella Morrison in a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is interested in pursuing her Master's Degree in Library Science. For more information on Outreach Services contact 704.416.0558 or visit http://www.cmlibrary.org/Youth/.

So Long Amy and Varanrat

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

― C. JoyBell C.
Either by chance or circumstances the Outreach Department is changing. Two of our wonderful Outreach Specialist, Amy Kukla and Varanrat Torok have resigned and we are in the process of hiring new staff. Amy Kukla worked in Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for six years. She speared headed several  initiatives which brought community awareness to the importance of early literacy. In 2007, Amy hosted a Community Literacy Envisioning Day. This event brought over fifty community leaders together to take ownership and become involved in early literacy in Charlotte. Other initiatives Amy worked on was the Born Reader Program, which puts books and literacy information in the hands of families with new born babies. The Born Reader is a collaborative project with Carolina Medical Center and Presbyterian Hospital. The book shelf programs have created literacy rich waiting rooms in several community agencies such as Department of Social Services and WIC offices. Amy leaves the library knowing she has touched the lives of thousands of children and families as she connected them with books and information that will last throughout their education and beyond!
Miss Varanrat Torok was more than a staff member, she was a force of energy. Though she will be remembered for many wonderful community programs, especially her technology programs that supported literacy and workforce development to English language learners, she will be known for her amazing photographer and her ability to capture the library's key messages with phenomenal pictures. Just this year, Varanrat put a face with our new adult summer reading program. Many of her pictures were used in the library's strategic plan document, not to mention the authors, festivals and events she photographed over the years.
Many thanks to Varanrat and Amy for their years of dedication to the department, organization and community. They definitely left big shoes to fill, but we are excited about filling them. We are ready to get back in the community, expand our services and continue to meet the needs of those who can't get into our building for services and resources.
We are ready to live, grow and go with the changes! We are exposed, open and I am ready to throw myself into the next chapter. And guess what Charlotte, I'm taking you with me! Stay Tuned!

Amy Kukla and the Read to Me Charlotte Book Shelf Project

Author Christopher Buckley by Varanrat Torok

Monday, June 11, 2012

New York Times Best Selling Author Mary Monroe

What an exciting honor to be a part of the Mary Monroe Book tour! The New York Times, best selling author  visited our Beatties Ford Road location on June 7, 2012. Ms. Monroe also spoke at one of our outreach location; the McCrory YMCA. The author of fifteen novels; including her latest book, "God Don't Make Mistakes" thrilled her audience as she discussed her childhood as the daughter of a share cropper, her early writings and many rejection letters and her family members who she draws from to create many of her characters including the larger than life "Mama Ruby."

Ms. Monroe was the first and only member of her family to graduate from high school and she is a self taught writer.  She never attended college or any writing classes. She is an extremely talented writer and her books are available at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. (standard, large print and audio) 

Ms. Monroe's visit summed up several activities the library provided for Older American Month. Check out our website to find and participate in other senior friendly programs and activities.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Come celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the library
See lion/dragon dance, Indian dance and participate in hands-on activities and games, make Chinese masks, Rangoli and more.
Come dress in your favorite Asian costume for a photo shoot. We will be giving out prizes to anyone who comes dressed in an Asian costume.

SATURDAY, MAY 19th. 2012

Enjoy the event at two library locations:

Matthews Library at 12:00 P.M. and

Beatties Ford Road Library at 3:00 P.M.

Come and celebrate with us!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seeing the Difference

Writing activity

Every time a library staff member visits one of our Jump Start Reading program sites, we are amazed at the progress the children are making with early reading skills. We target program sites in low income, high risk neighborhoods and many of the children we serve cannot demonstrate any pre-literacy skills. However, after only two in a half months of working with the children, caregivers and parents, there is a recognizable change in the children's knowledge and interest towards books and reading.

Connie Ellington facilitating parent workshop

JJ is a three year old student at one of our Jump Start Reading Sites. He was very reluctant to participate in the library program and he was always the last child to sit down for story time. When Connie Ellington, the "Library Lady" (the name the children use affectionately) came to visit on this particular day, JJ had a surprise. JJ asked if he could read a book to her today. He selected three books from the books shelf. He demonstrated several of the pre-literacy skills used in the Every Child Ready to Read curriculum. He modeled reading, he held the book and turned the pages properly, he pointed to the words on the pages and he talked about the illustrations. Through our department encounters, we learned that many students enter kindergarten without the ability to demonstrate these pre-literacy skills. Since JJ's daycare teachers and parents are learning these skills with him, we hope he will continue to learn long after the program ends. The Jump Start Reading program supports the long term learning experience by giving JJ books to take home to begin or enhance a home library and the daycare center that JJ attends will receive fifty books to continue the reading experience. The parents and children also participate in a library tour allowing parents to see all the free resources offered at and through the library. They can have tools and support to continue to be their child's first teacher.

Learning that print represents words

JJ is one of many children who receives literacy support form the library. Child care providers and parents are learning the five simple activities (talking, singing, reading, writing and playing) that they can use to help children get ready to read. Most importantly, JJ is receiving skills and tools that will help him succeed in school and beyond!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making a Difference in Your Community

Shamrock Senior Center

Impact, outcome measurements, stakeholders, CEO, partnerships, return on investment; these are not terms you associate with the business of operating a public library. However, these terms and actions are part of the structure of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. With limited community resources and high community need and demand, the library has to be able to tell its story, demonstrate community impact  and effectively communicate its benefits and values to our customers and stakeholders.

Don't stop reading. The first paragraph is as technical as it will get! The best way to share how the library impacts our community is through our customers.  Three customers share how the library made a difference in their life. Their experience demonstrates how the library's supports community issues through programs that address workforce development and life long learning.

Meet Josefina. Josefina takes advantage of weekly library sponsered computer classes offered at the Latin American Coalition. Josefina learned how to use the computer and Internet to fill out job applications and government forms. After completing the classes Josefina said, "Imagine when I apply to become a US citizen.  I can do it through the Internet and I did fill out all of those legal documents through the Internet without paying a penny."

Jose Luis is also a student in the computer class. He said he has learned many things about computers including how to write his own resume, apply for a job and use the Internet!

Luis attends  programs at Shamrock Senior Center. Library staff provides bi-monthly literacy programs to customers who speak Spanish as their first language. Luis believes library programs help the seniors become better thinkers. "Our brains are more active and we learn how to express ourselves in a better way. When you reach old age, we need more  support, and that is why these types of programs are very useful."

My 84 year old Aunt-in-law loves to hear stories about library programs. When I visit her, which I do often because she lives across the street, she always says, "Meryle, tell them (other family members) what you do at the library, its amazing. For the longest time, I thought you just checked out books." I am happy to share stories of the library's impact and value. I love to tell her how Josefina and Luis benefited from personal assistance that will help them find jobs and build  their workforce skills. My aunt understood how Luis felt about the literacy classes at the senior center and she new first hand how important this service is to healthy aging. Your library, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, continues to be more than fixture in the community.  It is an institution that supports the critical needs  of the people and community it serves. And yes Nanny, we still have books!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guess Who’s Coming to Día?

Alma Flor Ada

This year’s featured author for “El día de los niños / El día de los libros” (Day of the Child / Day of the Book) celebration is Alma Flor Ada. Ms. Ada is an internationally known speaker and the author of numerous children’s books such as Gathering the sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English, The Gold Coin, The Lizard and the Sun and many more. This year’s Día celebration is focusing on families reading and the five best practices to get children ready to read. Given Ms. Ada’s gifts as both a prolific children's book author and a respected scholar of bilingual education, she is the perfect featured guest for this year’s celebration.
Ms. Ada will have several appearances in Charlotte:
April 26, 2012  3:30 UNC-Charlotte (Black Box)
April 27, 2012  4:00 Black Forest Books and Toys
April 28, 2012  12:00 ImaginON 
Visit Alma Flor Ada’s website at http://almaflorada.com.  For more information on “El día de los niños / El día de los libros,” visit http://dia.ala.org.
Gathering The Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English¡Pío Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

6 to 5

(Six Skills to Five Practices)

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Outreach Team with few others CML staff members who involve in Jumpstart project attended the Every Child Ready to Read – New Conversations on Research, Relationships and Partnerships Webinar led by Elaine Meyers, a Consultant from King Ferry, New York last Thursday March 8th at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library.

From six skills presented in ECRR 1st Edition (Print awareness, Print motivation, Letter knowledge, Phonological awareness, Vocabulary, and Narrative skills) to the new five simple practices to help children get ready to read.

Here are five simple practices that parents and children can enjoy together;


Children learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining the conversation.

Books are wonderful conversation starters and learn new words.


Songs are a natural way to learn about language. Singing (and rhyming increase children’s awareness or sounds in words. This also helps prepare children to decode print.


Reading together with your children is the single most important way to help them get ready to read.

Reading helps children learn less common words.


Reading and writing go together.

Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning.


Children learn about language through different kinds of play such as pretend or dramatic play. Children learn best when they’re having FUN!

One skill--Many practices

One practice Many skills

Five simple yet powerful practices for the six skills for example talking with children helps develop all six skills featured in ECRR 1st Edition: print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, and print motivation.

These practices can easily be integrated into everyday activities to help children learn early literacy skills.

To become successful readers, children need to learn a code and understand its meaning.

Reading is learning the CODE.

Decoding is noticing print, knowing letter names and sounds and hearing the sounds that make up words.

Happy Reading to ALL!!!

You can learn more about ECRR 2nd Edition at www.everychildreadytoread.org

Friday, March 2, 2012

Celebrating African American History Month

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has always been dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the diversity in our community. Our commitment is evident as library leadership and board members detailed this information in our past and current strategic plan. African American History month was recognized at our branch locations as well as several outreach locations. Daisy Shipp shared her Knot a Wrap program and discussed the history of African American hair wrapping. Shae Movement demonstrated African American history and culture through music, drumming and dance. Staff Members Dot Siler and Connie Ellington participated in the Simmons YMCA Senior Adult African American History Program. Connie Ellington did a phenomenal job involving the seniors in the story, " The Elephant's Wrestling Match." She did a wonderful job using the oral tradition of storytelling and including every participant in the story. Dot Siler presented an Quiz Bowl program highlighting African American history that included our local history in Charlotte. During all of these programs, participants were introduced to the extensive collections of African American literature and resources available at the Public Library.

Knot a Wrap

Connie Ellington at the YMCA Program

Shae Movement

Helping Parents Communicate with Teachers

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides library outreach programs at the Latin American Coalition. These workforce development classes are designed to help patrons increase computer skills to communicate, find jobs and create opportunities to enhance employment. Classes at the Coalition are planned and implemented by staff member Irania Patterson. Irania was excited when she connected the content of her class with the students need. Part of the curriculum of the computer classes is establishing an e-mail account. Once the students created the account and practiced it within the class, Irania was not able to tell if the students continued to use the account for communication. The students approached Irania when they wanted to use their e-mail account and computer skills to communicate with their children's teacher, since grades and student information is electronic for Charlotte Mecklenburg School parents. Irania created a lesson that taught parents how to search the CMS website to find their students grades and they used their new e-mail account to communicate with their children's teacher! This was a huge accomplishment for our computer class, but a more important accomplishment for our computer class students. The free services from the library are helping parents access information that helps their child with educational success! For more information on Spanish language computer classes call 704.416.0557 or ipatterson@cmlibrary.org.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Never Too Old to Learn

Meet Ms. Moton. She is 105 years old and she decided to learn how to use a computer. She always had the desire to learn, but she never had the means or opportunity...until she agreed to participate in the Library Outreach program hosted at her Derita senior nutrition sites, run by Davida Kinsey. When Ms. Moton has a nutritious meal, she also participates in basic computer classes.Ms. Moton's 80 year old daughter brings her to the class and now she can use the mouse and keyboard. Ms. Moton mind is sharp, she has quick wit and a desire to learn. When the instructor, Dot Siler asked if she needed help she was told to stop hovering!
Ms. Moton did learn how to let up on the keys!
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is an affordable place to receive computer classes. The library also provides remote classes and opportunities to reach people who cannot use the library in a traditional manner like Ms. Moton who has limited mobility. Outreach programs are so much more than a simple activity, it provides access and the opportunity for seniors, such as Ms. Moton to participate in continuing learning opportunities that support healthy aging. The library currently provides programs at six senior nutrition locations. For more information on Senior Outreach Programs contact Dot Siler at dsiler@cmlibrary.org.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Library by Mail Goes Multilingual!

A bit of history...The Outreach Department provides programs and services to patrons who cannot use our facilities in a traditional manner and partnering with Mecklenburg County Senior Center is a perfect fit. We offer regular literacy programs at the Shamrock facility on Willard Farrow Drive. The Willard Farrow location serves a diverse population, which includes seniors from Russia, Asia and Latin America. Twice a month, Irania Patterson visits the facility and offers programs in Spanish. In our quest to understand our patrons needs, she presented our Library by Mail service to the group and twenty-five qualified people signed up for the service! Within a week of processing the applications, books were mailed as requested. Even though our Library by Mail coordinator, Connie Ellington does not speak Spanish, she was able to pick up key words from the applications and mail patrons books and other material. One recipient was so excited about reading Spanish language books, she insisted on coming to the Library to thank Connie. The patron was over joyed to read her books. She said (translated) "I wanted that book for years. I love the books and the service, thank you so much. I did not have anything to read until the books came in the mail!" She kissed and hugged the staff before she left. We hope to replicate this service for other patrons at the facility.

We recently learned that the transportation service used to bring the seniors to the facility has been cut and many seniors will not be able to participate in the social and educational opportunities that are part of the nutrition program. The Library by Mail program will serve an important role in keeping the seniors connected to community resources as well as keeping them engaged through reading. Both aspects are important for healthy aging and life long learning. To learn more about our Library by Mail program visit www.cmlibrary.org.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading Challenge

Want to get 200 middle school students reading? Let No Limit Larry and the Power 98 Morning Madhouse issue a challenge. The Reid Park RAMS were challenged to read twenty minutes five days per week. Students who meet the challenge will be recognized at the February and April awards assembly and is eligible for a drawing to win "middle school cool" prizes. The top five readers will spend a morning on air with the Morning Madhouse crew! Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is collaborating with Reid Park Academy to support literacy and academic success.