Press Release - Detail
Janine Langston
Literacy and Outreach Coordinator
Birmingham Public Library
(205) 322-6371

Birmingham Public Library’s Ready to Read Program To Be Featured at the American Library Association in Chicago, IL

Diversity & Outreach Fair will take place on Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 8, 2009, Birmingham, AL—The American Library Association has selected Janine Langston and the Birmingham Public Library to participate in the 2009 Diversity and Outreach Fair at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

For several years Birmingham Public Library partnered with The Literacy Council to match tutors trained by the Literacy Council with learners. Once matched, the tutors and learners met at a convenient public library. Unfortunately, there were more learners who needed tutoring than available tutors. A waiting list for tutors began. As a result, BPL has created a new way to serve the learners. Instead of matching one-on-one, several meeting times have been established at the different locations. Five Points West hosts sessions at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and 10:00 a.m. on Thursdays. North Birmingham Branch hosts a session on Monday nights at 6:00 p.m., North Avondale on Monday mornings at 10:00 a.m., Pratt City at 1:00 p.m. on Mondays, and Central at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays.

The sessions are called “Ready to Read.” This arrangement has turned out to be quite successful for everyone involved. After one year, the Literacy Council assigned a VISTA volunteer coordinator to the project. Also, at this time Lawson State Community College joined the partnership by writing and securing a federal grant. Books, laptop computers, and office supplies for each location were purchased with the grant funds. The program was soon expanded to six sessions at five branch libraries thanks to the VISTA volunteer coordinator and Lawson State’s materials.

Ready to Read is an excellent example of how three agencies partnered to meet a community need. The result is a program that achieves more than each agency could achieve by itself. Ready to Read provides the community with a simple way for learners to reach their literacy goals. There is no longer a waiting list, a burden for both the Literacy Council and Lawson State. Also, learners who are not yet ready for formal GED classes have a place to learn. The Library benefits by promoting its resources and services to the learners and tutors.

For information on how to become a tutor or a participant in the program, please call your local library branch or call the Literacy Center at 226-3671.

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