Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I am very excited to have been assigned to volunteer at the Lexington Public Library Village Branch this semester. While I do not yet have any hands-on experience with my service learning organization, the research I have done in advance has really gotten me excited about the opportunity I've been given.
These days, a library is much more than a building that offers hundreds or even thousands of books to people seeking knowledge. After searching the library's website, I found that there are tons of options and opportunities available to the public. Classes are available that target a variety of age groups, from elementary children to adults, and classes are offered in more subjects than simply reading. At the library, they offer adult literacy classes, arts and crafts, book sales, movies, exhibits, computer classes, and the list goes on. They also have classes that seem totally unrelated to a library, such as health and wellness, and gardening and farming. Having never been in the library myself, I am very anxious to dive in and get hands-on experience volunteering there.
I will be working with the children in the after-school tutoring program. One thing I think is very unique about the program is that it offers assistance to Spanish-speaking children as well as those that speak English, and that must be a huge relief to busy Spanish-speaking households because it isn't often that someone is willing to help your child if it is an inconvenience to them. I myself have four years of Spanish-speaking experience, and, in addition to classroom exposure, I have been blessed to have traveled to numerous Spanish-speaking countries where I have been able to put my skills to the test. They say practice makes perfect, and I certainly hope that is the case, because I would love to be one of the volunteers that could assist a Spanish-speaking student.

I Love the Library

        My love for reading began at a very early age and it has only grown stronger over the years. Books make me very excited, so of course being in a library surrounded by them makes me overwhelmingly happy. Thinking about the library always brings a wave of fond memories crashing into me and I can associate different parts of my life with times at the library. As a young child, I spent hours upon hours at my local library. I attended children's events held there, checked out countless books, and begged my mom to take me there everyday after school. Later in life, I had the chance to be a part of the Governor's Scholars Program at Morehead State University. This experience would not have been as incredible if it had not been for the library there. The library allowed me to build friendships with people that will last forever. We spent so much of our time in that library and I can honestly say that my life was changed because of this. Most recently, I was able to visit the New York Public Library. While everyone else on the trip to New York headed for Times Square, Grand Central Station, and other common tourist attractions, my main goal was to reach the library. It was very beautiful inside and a great way to end my last day in NYC. 
        All of these experiences have given me a great appreciation for libraries in general, so the Lexington Public Library was easily my first choice for the service learning project. I have not yet begun volunteering, but I am excited to get started soon. I am also looking forward to practicing my Spanish speaking skills with the children that I will be tutoring. Interacting with these children will be great experience for me and I hope that I will be able to help them as much. I want to create an environment that is fun and enjoyable for the kids I will be working with by exhibiting kindness, patience, and understanding. I hope I can give them positive memories of their afternoons at the library that they will be able to look back on with association of good, uplifting times in their lives. I have felt this way and I want the children participating in the homework help program to share this same love of the library. 


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Literacy in Lexington : Katy Estes

             As an old member of the Public Library, I look forward to my service at the Lexington Public Library Village Branch. Through my own experience as a customer, I know that the resources available are amazing for people of all ages. They offer classes for adults from Health and Wellness, and Gardening and Farming; to Legal, and Resume Writing. Also, for kids they have “Story time,” Arts and Crafts, and tutoring sessions – which I will personally be helping out with during my service hours at the library. One particular event that I found recently through the website is “Teen Space” that takes place each Thursday. They form a small group and talk about subjects each week on how to be productive and effective in life and school. I honestly wish I would’ve taken advantage of that when I was in high school.
            I have found their website very informative for all of the activities and classes that the library offers. When you go to the homepage, you can discover events, services, and collections of books. The website is user-friendly, which is also helpful.
            Though I have not been to the Lexington Public Library yet on my service learning sessions, I am looking forward to working alongside the librarians as well as helping the students who are being tutored. I personally love tutoring children and helping them with homework. Last year I dedicated over 6 hours each week tutoring at a local middle school and helping kids with Math and Reading.

            One social issue related to the public library is literacy. Although many Lexingtonians like to believe that our schools are performing better each year, there are still some schools, and many students, who are falling behind. From working with the students in the middle school where I volunteered last year, I learned that many incoming 6th graders are not prepared for 6th grade material. Many students do not have proficient reading skills but do have the desire to improve them. Hopefully through places like the public library, services like tutoring will be able to increase the literacy in children in Lexington. I am excited to do my part in this movement. 
Children reading happily.

Investigating the LexPubLib

The Lexington Public Library Village Branch
The Lexington Public Library seems to be a great place to learn! It offers a blend of traditional library resources with modern technology. The library houses books ideal for reference and research, including encyclopedias, scholarly journals and articles, many of which are available to read online for free through the website. Not to mention novels of every genre, where every reader can find something to enjoy, and comic books, for readers who prefer fewer words paired with artwork. The Lexington Public Library offers eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more available for digital download. There are a wide variety of computer classes available, from more advanced programs like InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, to Internet Basics, a class designed for those with little to no experience with computers. Here, people with all levels of computer skills can hone their crafts, or simply gain more experience with technology.
As a kid, I always loved reading. I read everything: Magic Treehouse, Dr. Seuss books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Charlotte's Web, and more. That would not have been possible without the public library's help, both in providing books for me to read, and suggesting others that I might enjoy. The library helps young readers and their parents discover the joys of reading through reading readiness programs and Beanstack,
which provides parents with books and apps for young readers, all suggested by librarians.
Most importantly, the library offers a bilingual homework help center, where I'll be volunteering. I have had some experience tutoring in high school, and my favorite part about it was knowing that what I was doing made a difference. I saw that the student's grades were improving, and it made me so happy. I also have taken five years of Spanish in school, and I would love to be able to converse with native speakers and improve my fluency.
Just looking at the library’s website leaves me with a great first impression and I’m already looking forward to volunteering there. All of the resources available truly shows the Lexington Public Libary's commitment to lifetime learning.

Why the Library?

When first reading through my choices for Service Learning Organizations, the Lexington Public Library immediately caught my eye. The Village Branch of the Library, at which I will be volunteering, provides an opportunity for children to receive the needed help on their homework that may not be available to them at home. Volunteers such as myself are able to help with subjects such as math, social studies, science, and reading.
This seems like the perfect service site for me because I love working with children. They have an innocent perspective on the world and are genuinely happy and excited about the smallest aspects of life. Interacting with children almost always elevates my mood. However, the training manual discusses how volunteers should treat the kids – with respect and without patronizing them. I believe this will be a vital attitude to maintain in order for the kids to trust and connect with me on an educational and friendly level.
Aside from getting the kids to be excited about their education, I am most looking forward to possibly working with some Spanish-speaking or bilingual children. The Homework Help program is comprised of a bilingual staff who provide services to children from Hispanic families. I have a limited knowledge of the Spanish language and would love to use some of my skills to work with bilingual children.

I want to serve this organization in whatever ways I am able. Although I will be providing my time and service to the kids at the Library, I believe they will be serving me too. I have not declared a major, but I am seriously considering studying Middle Level Education with a minor in Spanish. Tutoring the kids will hopefully give me a small glimpse into what teaching could be like. I am so excited to start giving back to my new community in Lexington through this type of service.

Below is a link with more information on the Village Branch and the Homework Help Program.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie By: Laura Numeroff

     I thought it would be interesting to try to connect all my posts to a children's book that I remember reading with my parents at bedtime. I think that reading as a child really impacts one's life. It encourages them to love learning and makes them more successful throughout life.
     As a little girl I remember reading this book at bedtime at least once a week. The pages were turned so many times that they are worn at the corners and you can tell by just looking at it that that one paper book brought a child hours of joy. In this tale the main character, a cute little mouse is offered a cookie. The cookie reminds him of memories which snowball into other memories and activities that he insists on recreating. I hope that I can somehow find a way to get the kids I work with through this program to love learning as much as I do. It might start out with reading a simple story but hopefully it will snowball into a lifetime of learning.
     I am so excited to begin volunteering at my service learning location, the Lexington Public Library, this semester. This will be a great experience that will allow me to help kids with homework, establish a connection, and hopefully impact their lives in the coming months. I have a passion for helping others and enjoy being around kids. I think that this organization will be a good fit for me. The Lexington Public Library System has lots of neat programs in place to promote literacy across the city. The website linked below has all kinds of information about the various volunteer opportunities.

The popular children's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie By: Laura Numeroff