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!

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