People sometimes ask me, “Whatever happened to the card catalog”? As many of our veteran library staff know, Hayward Public Library was one the first libraries to computerize its catalog way back in the 1980′s. Since that time, our card catalogs have been officially out of service. But we have kept them in storage for all these years, just waiting for the right reason to use them again. Meanwhile, library card catalogs have been showing up on the antiques market lately, some at eye-popping prices. According to antique dealers, card catalogs are now considered retro-chic, very desirable, and they are getting harder and harder to find. Just in my four years as Hayward’s library director, the number of people who have asked me if we still have our card catalogs and if we would sell them, runs in the double digits. Apparently, card catalogs make great storage for curios, wine, yarn, socks, etc., and are even used as display furnishings in high-end boutiques – who knew? But my answer was always no – not only because they’re public property, but also because along with library books and library cards, the card catalog is one of the most emblematic symbols of the library’s rich and proud history, and it still has value and utility even in this day and age of computers everywhere. In fact, we have found the perfect use for the card catalogs again, and will soon be bringing them back into the sunlight in a new and innovative way.
We’re starting a seed lending library this coming April. And as it turns out, the old card catalog is just the right size for organizing and storing the seed packets. I’m looking forward to this great new resource, and I think our community will be excited about it, too. I think there’s a certain zen-like harmony to the idea: re-using and re-purposing that which is useful; life springs anew; sharing information and resources with the whole community; all that good stuff. It’s funny, I remember using the card catalogs in the Main Library when I was a kid. I wonder if I opened that very same drawer, way back then? Today, as a librarian who has the incredible good fortune to work and serve in my hometown library, it will be satisfying to see the card catalogs back in useful service again, as they should be — in the public library where everyone can enjoy and benefit from them (not just the wine and yarn collectors). Stay tuned for more announcements about the seed lending library and our first annual Seed Read and Plant-a-Thon event on April 13. And check out the awesome new poster advertising the program, designed by our multitalented library page, Bethany Bender.
The latest issue of Rotary International’s monthly magazine The Rotarian features a cover story on the allure of books by “negative-styled humorist” and Wall Street Journal columnist Joe Queenan. Of particular note are the accompanying photo illustrations, which I found to be as intriguing and thought-provoking as the article itself.
As a proud member of my local Rotary club, I know how much Rotary supports reading and literacy in communities around the world. For example, here in Hayward the Rotary club raises over $20,000 each year to provide a children’s dictionary to every third grader in Hayward– all 2,200 of them. As a librarian, I know that studies show children who have access to books in their home do better in school, go farther in their educations, and earn more in later life. But as a Rotarian, for me the best part of the dictionary project is simpler than that — it’s seeing these children’s faces light up when they first get their dictionaries and start leafing through the pages. These dictionaries are beautiful hardcover editions, filled with gorgeous full color photos and illustrations, almost like single-volume encyclopedias. And when we tell them that these books are theirs to keep, the looks of delight and amazement on their faces… well, it is a priceless moment. And when they ask, why is Rotary giving us these books?, the answer is equally priceless — because we care about you, we care about kids in our community, and we want you have everything you need to learn and grow and do your very best in school.
That connection, that passing of the torch of knowledge is one of the essential joys of reading. Learning is a lifelong adventure that deepens and enriches our lives in so many ways. And we all have a part to play in paying it forward to the next generation through the enduring power of books.
Rotary International has 1.2 million members in more than 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary members volunteer in communities in every corner of the globe, at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio. To learn more, and to find a Rotary club in your community, visit www.rotary.org.
On Friday, December 7th, the Hayward City Council Chambers were packed to capacity for the world premiere of the documentary film, “Now We Can Dance,” created by local Hayward teens under the guidance of Hayward Public Library staff Laurie Willis, Shawna Sherman, and Sally Thomas. The film is a remarkable achievement–a moving and inspiring look into the history, meaning, importance, and impact of the Hayward Gay Prom, one of the longest-running LGBTQ youth events of its kind in the country. The film featured several past and present attendees and organizers of the prom, as well as local leaders who played key roles in forming and supporting the event, including former Hayward Mayor Roberta Cooper, Lt. Christine Orrey of the HPD, Betty DeForest of South Hayward Neighborhood Collaborative (all of whom were in the audience), and many, many others.
As well as being a celebration of a very special and unique youth event, “Now We Can Dance” masterfully and unflinchingly examines the pool of hate and intolerance that has been directed toward LGBTQ youth from the Gay Prom’s inception in 1995 to the present day, embodied in the sickening protests that accompany the event, and it brilliantly captures how the community literally “bands together” to respond to and neutralize these hateful displays. The manner in which the event’s supporters counteract the poisonous viewpoints of the protesters is nothing short of triumphant. A bit rough around the edges production-wise, but otherwise flawless in its passion and grace, “Now We Can Dance,” is unquestionably a landmark achievement in the history of HPL, one of which we all can and should be very proud. The next stop for the film will hopefully be acceptance to the upcoming Frameline film festival in San Francisco where Laurie has submitted the film for consideration, and beyond that, possible distribution to a wider audience via DVD.
Laurie, Shawna, and Sally did a truly outstanding job on the film as well as the premiere event itself. It was a long time in the works, and I understand that they had a tremendous amount and support from many, many other people and organizations, but I want to take this moment to congratulate them specifically for what they have accomplished. Brava!
Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. We vote in Presidential elections only once every four years, but when we volunteer, we vote for the kind of community we want to live in, every single day.
Many of the Library’s programs would not be possible without the assistance of our dedicated corps of volunteers. Library volunteers contribute their time and energy to assist children with their homework after school, to help illiterate adults learn to read, and to raise funding in support of Library services, among many other vital activities.
Statistically speaking, Hayward Public Library programs are supported by a corps of 250 volunteers who provide a whopping 12,000 hours of service per year — an average of 230 service hours per week! This includes volunteers in Literacy Plus, the Homework Centers, and Senior Outreach Services.
Those statistics, impressive already, do not include the hours served by our nonprofit partners Literacy Council and Friends of the Library. These all-volunteer groups make significant contributions to the Library and the City through their work. The Friends of the Library, for example, have 50 volunteers who provide 8,000 additional hours of service per year, including the popular fundraising Book Sales at the downtown Farmer’s Market.
So, the question is, what kind of community do you want to live in? Cast your vote today and every day by volunteering! Helping to make Hayward a great place to live, work, learn and play for all Hayward residents is big job, but just a few hours of volunteer service per month can make a big difference. Visit the city website and click the Volunteering link to learn how you can help in The Heart of the Bay.
A wise and well-read man once said, “Civilization exists because people can read, and people can read because civilization exists.” Books and reading are the essential building blocks we have used throughout history to record, share, and build upon the collective ideas and knowledge of our civilization. Reading is a universal activity that brings people together — across the ages, across cultures and languages, and around the world. The written word has extraordinary power to stimulate, educate, and open minds, and to lift us all up to higher ground.
But for all the good things about reading, literacy faces many challenges in the modern world. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a comprehensive national report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only was literary reading in America declining rapidly among all demographic groups, but that the rate of decline was accelerating, especially among the young. The report showed that fewer than half of all American adults spend any time reading literature at all. (Fortunately this doesn’t seem to be the trend in education-focused Hayward, where people are using their library at record-high levels. In the past year, 1.3 million books and media were checked out from Hayward Public Library, shattering all previous records — and that number continues to climb!)
Now, the cynical observer might ask, does it matter if people read or not? Does reading translate into concrete action in the real world? The answer to both questions is, yes, in fact, it does. The Reading at Risk report showed that people who read books often, are far more engaged and active in their communities than people who don’t. For example, the report found that readers are nearly three times more likely to attend a performing arts event; one-and-a-half times more likely to attend a sporting event; and over two-and-a-half times more likely to do volunteer or charity work in the community. In addition to the more obvious reasons why we know reading is a good thing — education, lifelong learning, exploring new ideas, and so forth — we also know that a community that values reading is likely to be a stronger, more active and engaged community overall.
So, after you have finished reading this – take action! Check out your Hayward Public Library’s website to learn more about our innovative Book-to-Action series, and how you can translate books into community action, right here in your town.
Did you know that nearly one in four adults in California lack basic literacy skills? In Hayward alone, this means that up to 25,000 adults in our city read and write below the 8th grade level, far below that level for some. When this many people can’t read effectively, or fill out a job application, or help their children with their schoolwork, our community and local economy suffers immensely. From lost and unrealized earning potential, to the long-term strain on our safety net services, illiteracy impacts us all.
You can help turn this trend around and help us change illiterate people’s lives for the better, one learner at a time, through Hayward Public Library’s volunteer-driven Literacy Plus program. “Shake, Rattle, and Read: Supporting Hayward Literacy,” an evening of fine wine, dining and silent auction in support of the Literacy Plus program, takes place Saturday, March 31st, 6:00 p.m. at Stonebrae Country Club. Please join us for this special fundraising event, formerly known as “Be Our Valentine,” to help support our tutor training program and family literacy classes for low-literate parents and their children.
Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door, and are available at the Library. I hope to see you there. Together we can transform lives for the better through the power of literacy. For more information, to donate, or to become an event sponsor, call Cindy Breeden-Johnson at 510-881-7911.
Libraries across the nation are changing — changing for the better. Public libraries have always been the people’s resource, a civic resource and a cornerstone institution in the community, leveling the playing field and providing equal opportunity in education and information to every citizen. And though libraries continue to change and adapt their services as people’s needs and circumstances change over time, that tradition remains strong. One of the things that Hayward Public Library is working on right now that we’re excited about, is strengthening our support for nonprofit organizations that serve Hayward residents. A couple of years ago, the City’s Library department combined with the Community Services Division, which among other activities, provides grantmaking and technical assistance to nonprofits that address social service needs in Hayward. And some really cool things have come out of that combination, for example, we were able to secure a grant to establish a Nonprofit Resource Center in the public library beginning this January. The Nonprofit Resource Center will strengthen our services and support to local nonprofits, with the goal to help local nonprofits attract and bring more funding resources into Hayward to serve our community. It’s hard to picture the shushing public library of bygone years undertaking a project like this, but today it’s right in line with our mission and the current needs of our community, and we’re excited to be able to make it happen for Hayward. Another really interesting aspect of this project is a new Nonprofit Executive Seminar customized specifically for Hayward: a six-month series of advanced workshops for local nonprofit executives and senior staff to learn advanced fundraising and resource development techniques. The grant we received will cover the cost in full for up to twenty-four Hayward area nonprofit executives to participate in this outstanding program, and applications are being invited now. This is just one way in which fulfilling the library’s mission in a changing society is resulting in new and innovative services. No matter what transformations occur in libraries, that tradition of education, equal opportunity and the democratic ideal will always stay strong, and on a personal note, I’m humbled and honored to have a part to play in continuing that tradition right here in my hometown.
An article about Hayward Public Library’s upcoming Nonprofit Resource Center project recently appeared on the TechSoup website. The interviewer, Ariel Gilbert-Knight, was incredibly gracious, and wrote a very thoughtful article about the project and how it fits into the evolving roles of libraries and nonprofits in our society.
It begins by asking, “How does a librarian end up running a city’s community grant programs for nonprofits, housing rehabilitation, and paratransit program, in addition to its public libraries?” Indeed, that is a great question, one which I have asked myself a few times!
Of course, the real answer is that libraries, nonprofits, and other community organizations have a shared mission to serve others and level the playing field in their communities. And in Hayward, the combination of Library and Community Services into a single department provides a huge opportunity to learn new ways of thinking about the library’s role in the community. Here’s one quote from the article that sums up this new perspective:
In libraries, you spend 90% of your time with people who come into the library. Or with other librarians, or at library events. Everyone just automatically assumes the library is essential. It’s a slam-dunk talking to those folks. Outside of that world, it’s not just assumed, and the value of libraries is different.
Read the full article here: http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/spotlight/library-nonprofit-partnership-finds-opportunity-in-scarcity
At the Library, our goal is to deliver equal opportunity in education to every Hayward resident. This is because we believe that education is the key to a stronger, brighter future for any community. Whether it’s through our early childhood education classes for young children and parents, afterschool homework help for students, literacy tutoring for adults who lack basic reading and writing proficiency, or English as Second Language training for non-native speakers of English, we place an emphasis on meeting the lifelong learning needs of every member of our diverse community. In this regard, the Library is truly the community’s learning center.
Books will always be the heart and soul of the library, but our educational mission extends far beyond books—and even beyond the four walls of our buildings. Through new partnerships and innovative programs, we continuously strive to meet our community’s changing educational needs.
For example, the City of Hayward opened a new afterschool homework center in September at Longwood Elementary School, in partnership with Hayward Unified School District. The new center provides customized one-to-one homework tutoring to students with the help of trained volunteers. Over 200 students received homework assistance in its first week of operation.
Longwood Center is also the home of Hayward’s first Public Library Book Vending Machine. It looks like a snack vending machine, but, instead of chips and candy, it’s stocked with Hayward Public Library books! The new homework center and book vending machine provide access to public library books and services where previously there was none.
Through partnership, innovation, technology, and the support of community volunteers like you, we can continue to build new educational opportunities and a brighter future for every Hayward resident—of every age. To learn more about how people can help make a positive difference in the community, visit the City’s website and its volunteering opportunities.