The Evanston Public Library has released the online version of the 2017 Annual Report: What Does Literacy Look Like.
The 2017 report showcases three areas of concentration:
1. Digital Literacy: The Library is growing its role in advancing digital literacy in the community. In 2017, EPL continued to see high levels of interest and steady attendance at technology classes. EPL held 136 one-on-one technology help sessions, 240 group technology classes, and answered more than 13,000 technology related questions ranging from basic help to advanced. The Library increased the number of WiFi Hotspots available for checkout from 30 in 2016 to 100 in 2017. WiFi Hotspots circulated 786 times in 2017. Demand continues to exceed supply. Additionally, EPL continues strong partnerships with District 65 in digital literacy training for students including problem solving, coding, circuitry and design.
2. Early Literacy: It’s no secret that early experiences with books and stories contribute to future achievement. Via the Early Childhood Education Journal, a Rubin & Wilson study focused on storytelling and story time in providing children the opportunity to “play with language, while gaining an appreciation of the sounds and meanings of words.” Talking and singing during story time also drive linguistic development because interaction strengthens the learning. Other research shows interactive, read-aloud styles and adult assistance in word learning are most effective in enhancing word learning. EPL supports childhood literacy through popular storytime programming guided by these best practices (11,198 attendees in 2017.) The Library also saw an increase in Summer Reading Program participation by children ages 0-5, charting a 16% increase from 2015 to 2017. Through D65 Kindergarten tours of the Library, 354 new library cards were issued to some of our youngest readers.
3. Expanding Community Access to Learning and Literacy. Two key hires in 2017 have advanced the Library’s mission of providing equitable access to cultural, intellectual, technological, and information resources. Miguel Ruiz, Latino Engagement Librarian, works to ensure that Evanston’s growing Latinx community is reflected in services, resources, and collections. Social Worker Justine Janis, in collaboraton with many community partners, is helping more patrons receive resource information, direct support, and necessary services ranging from primary care to mental health care, housing, and employment.
Karen Danczak Lyons, EPL Library Director states, “Evanston is a strong community of learners with diverse expectations and needs. In 2017, we continued to expand our reach and stretch our mission beyond the traditional definition of literacy. Literacy is understanding and knowledge, and the ability to use that knowledge to accomplish one’s goals. We’re here to help Evanstonians do that: whether the goal is learning to read, learning to master technology, or coming together as a community to make the world a better place.”