EMPOWERMENT It was bad enough when Mike lost his job. He had worked for 12 years and never thought he would never be standing in the unemployment line. But then it got worse when he found out he had to file his unemployment online . . . And he had no computer skills. He had been good at his job, and he was a good employee, but computers had not been part of his life. Now, he had to learn how to use them in order to put groceries on the table again. He found himself at the Greenwood Public Library. He created an e-mail account, filed his unemployment and created an electronic resume. The staff at GPL walked him through each step, and within weeks Mike’s panic was turning to growing confidence: Free computer classes, new skills, and an expanded resume. Mike’s getting more interviews every week. Every day he gets up, gets dressed, grabs a coffee at the Bookmark Café and heads upstairs to his new “office” where he searches for jobs at GPL.
Mike is not alone – dozens of unemployed patrons use our services every week as their portal to the internet. They need a place to search for jobs, file unemployment, and learn new skills. And a friendly face doesn’t hurt, either. We have a waiting list each month of patrons who would like to take our free computer classes. We do not have the staff to increase classes or the money to add more computer stations to the classroom. Each of our fifty public computers currently needs $130 worth of software upgrades. We want to continue to bridge the digital divide – evening the playing field for all community members to have access to technology.
ENJOYMENT When Anne moved to Greenwood in 1959, she didn’t know a soul. She didn’t have a car or extra money, but she did have a love of reading that just wouldn’t quit. So, with the help of their little red wagon, she and her two children became regulars at storytime. She hoped they would learn to love reading as much as she did. By 1963, Anne was a stressed out single mom. A difficult divorce left her needing information on many topics, and once again it was the library she turned to. 51 years later, Anne is still enjoying life in Greenwood. Now on a fixed income, she comes for more than just books. She enjoys free computer classes so she can see pictures of her grandkids via e-mail. And she loves the boisterous discussions at the Primetime Bookclub with women of all ages. If the book of the month is particularly good, she ships it off to her daughter in California, so that they can continue the discussion together. Because just as she had hoped so many years ago, her daughter did learn to love to read, thanks to a great mom, the Greenwood Library, and a little red wagon.
Anne’s story is timeless. Every day new “Annes” discover the library. Their children discover the magic of story, and family library traditions are created. In these difficult economic times, even families that were used to buying books at Barnes and Noble, or going out to the movies on a whim now appreciate the ability to borrow books for free, and connect with their community at summer movie nights. Last year, we checked out 320,000 books. 35,000 patrons attended free library events. And that’s not all – our statistics continue to increase. But we do not want to have to choose between family-friendly programs, a great collection, or free computer classes. There is such a need – we want to continue to serve each generation of Greenwood and bridge the gap that the economy creates.
EDUCATION Jasmine thinks her daughter Shanti is pretty special. And she’s smart, too! But Jasmine was worried that her daughter’s strong accent would keep her from being able to pronounce English sounds well enough to learn her letters and sounds in Kindergarten. She could not afford preschool, but she heard that the preschool storytime at the Greenwood Library might be helpful. Shanti and her mom came to preschool storytime for an entire year. They had never had so much fun together: A crazy storytime, sensation stations afterwards, and take home papers to work on through the week. By the end of the year not only was Shanti speaking English clearly, she was even beginning to read! She couldn’t wait for Kindergarten to begin. The decision that Jasmine made will pay dividends in Shanti’s life for years to come.
Many people believe that learning to read is a natural process. But the truth is that for many children, reading is a difficult unnatural process. In fact 40% of fourth graders lack basic literacy skills, and this deficit often follows them throughout their lives. We want to continue to be a bridge to literacy for the children of Greenwood. Our goal is to be able to double our kindergarten readiness program and improve it. We currently have 56 families on the waiting list for our program, and we would love to see that eliminated and our services expanded. At GPL storytime isn’t just fun and games - we’re serious about literacy. (shhhh! Don’t let the kids know!) .