People start new chapters every day in public libraries, and not just in the books they’re reading. By providing access to technology, resources and opportunities for citizens of all ages and walks of life, libraries are helping change lives. Here are a few of the ways libraries are making a difference.
Access to Technology
The cost for an Internet connection is still higher than many families can afford, even though it’s an important tool for everyone from adults applying for jobs to children completing homework assignments. Even fast food restaurants require online job applications. In an October 2013 survey of Virginia Beach Public Library customers, 25% of respondents said the library was their only source of Internet access. With 400 public computers throughout the system, Internet access and WiFi at all locations, VBPL bridges the gap for those with no access at home.
Each year, VBPL staff helps approximately 800 people who are searching for jobs. Services include providing instructional materials, basic computer instruction and classes, space for one-on-one career coaching with qualified volunteers, and referrals to workforce development services at Opportunity Inc.
On a recent Saturday, Donn Dietz stopped by Pungo-Blackwater Library to return the “Certified Electronic Technician Examination” book he borrowed in order to prepare for a job interview. He personally thanked the staff for helping him get the book and happily shared the news that he was hired by an international company.
Promoting Early Literacy
Storytime at the library is a great opportunity for children and their parents to spend time together, but it’s not just fun and games. Storytime classes teach crucial early literacy skills to children while their parents learn tips to help support development at home. VBPL offers more than 60 preschool classes each week for children ages six months to five years old. The classes use the American Library Association’s “Every Child Ready to Read” research-based curriculum.
Elizabeth Southern began bringing her son, Calvin, to storytime classes at Princess Anne Area Library when he was 9 months old. “He made friends, I made friends…we learned songs, read stories, did finger plays and so much more,” she said. Now that Calvin is in kindergarten, Elizabeth says he loves books and is reading above his grade level. She says the storytime classes benefitted Calvin on multiple levels and prepared him for success in kindergarten.
Many of our locations have also transformed their children’s areas into early literacy centers with interactive toys and computer stations where children can play educational games, explore the basics of computer usage and enjoy an Internet-like experience without being online.
Libraries are still places to spend family time, where you can relax and read newspapers and magazines, and check out books, movies and music. You can also download books, magazines and music from the library’s website at www.VBgov.com/downloadables