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Literacy & Education

Adding Value through Inclusiveness


Note: This is part of a multi-part series on how JCPL adds value to the community.

Libraries were built on a foundational principal: that everyone deserves equal access to information and opportunity, without regard for differences in age, ethnicity, income level, education level, physical or mental capacity, political affiliation, or any other demographic.

At JCPL, our core values include serving our patrons with care and creating a welcoming environment for all. We recently launched a system-wide diversity campaign for all employees, to ensure that we understand and value diversity, continue to enhance our cultural competencies and provide relevant resources to our diverse populations.

We're doing this because Jefferson County is a culturally rich community, with representatives from every segment of the population. Here are some recent stats*:

  • A third of Jeffco Schools' students are characterized as minorities: 25 percent are Hispanic; three percent are Asian Pacific; and the remaining five percent represent a number of other ethnic backgrounds.
  • Ten percent of our population speaks a language other than English at home.
  • Nearly 20 percent of our residents are 60 years or older, and that population is expected to double in the next 20 years.
  • Nearly 10 percent of Jeffco residents are living with a disability -- and that increases to 31 percent for those aged 65 or older.
  • Nearly eight percent of residents in the civilian labor force are unemployed.
  • A third of Jeffco Schools' students qualify for free and reduced lunch. This indicates that they are living near or below federal poverty guidelines.
  • Nearly 900 residents are homeless, or living on the brink of homelessness. 

The numbers tell one story. Our experience tells another, far more interesting one.

If you walk into our libraries, you'll see that story come to life, with all of the color and gravitas that it entails. You'll see every demographic represented, and staff who are dedicated to serving them. In addition, you'll find programs and resources that offer exciting insights into the amazing and vibrant character of our community.

Here's an example: 

This photo is of one of the members of Grupo Tlaloc, a danza Azteca group, who performed at four of our libraries during Hispanic Heritage Month. Grupo Tlaloc is the first and oldest group of its kind in the Denver area, promoting 35 years of educating, performing, and understanding of the native culture of Mexico and the Native American way of life to our community.

They were awesome! And they are just one example of the panoply of resources we have available. You should come check them out.

At JCPL, we value and embrace diversity because it's the right thing to do. And in doing so, we make our own lives incredibly richer.

* Sources: Jeffco Schools website, American Community Survey 2013, Jefferson County Aging Well Project, Point in Time Survey 2013 

The Power of Partnership: Early Literacy


At JCPL, we're passionate about early literacy. We believe it's a critical skill that helps children from birth to five establish a solid foundation in life. It sets the stage for their future success, and it contributes to the economic growth and development of our county as a whole. Sadly, in some Jefferson County schools, fewer than 50 percent of children entering kindergarten have the skills they need to be ready to read.

We want to change that! 

The Library is uniquely positioned to support early literacy. Our storytimes, based on Every Child Ready to Read, incorporate simple practices to help parents and other caregivers develop early literacy skills in our youngest residents. They are wildly popular, with demand and participation growing every year. In fact, in 2013, we presented more than 3,300 storytimes to nearly 89,000 participants.

Unfortunately, in this era of shrinking resources, we find ourselves nearly maxed out in the number of storytimes we can offer at our libraries. With our current hours of operation, we're hard pressed to meet the ever-growing demand for these services during library hours.

However, as they say, "where there's a will, there's a way."

I'm pleased to announce that we've found a way to extend our early literacy storytimes, through an innovative partnership with Jefferson County’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and the Triad Early Childhood Council. Beginning this year, JCPL will support CCAP and TRIAD in their efforts to increase access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers from families with low income. In its initial stages, the program will provide 19  Jefferson County child-care facilities with materials, resources, coaching and professional development to support high-quality services.  We're supporting this effort by presenting early literacy storytimes at these facilities and by offering coaching, materials and other early literacy resources to staff, parents and caregivers.

At JCPL, we believe every child should have a solid start in life. Now, thanks to TRIAD and CCAP, we can help more children realize that dream.

Teaching Deaf Children How to Read


Roughly one in 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with severe to profound hearing loss, and these children risk experiencing delays in language, speech development and reading skills. Teaching these children to read can be challenging.

At JCPL, we strive to make the gift of reading available to every child. We work with children to make reading fun, and we offer parents and caregivers tools and resources they can use to help their children learn to read. Following are examples of the kinds of programs we provide.

Coming Soon: Gateway to Reading. This workshop, offered in partnership with Gallaudet University, Austin Community College District, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and Rocky Mountain Deaf School, will present effective book sharing techniques as outlined in The 15 Principles of Reading to Deaf Children. Topics include: why reading is important, how to use sign language to share stories, reading while not knowing all the signs, and keeping American Sign Language and English visible while reading. You don't need to know American Sign Language to benefit from this workshop. Registration is required – please email no later than Friday, Nov. 29. Sign up today!

American Sign Language (ASL) Storytimes.  These special storytimes, presented orally with American Sign Language support, give hearing impaired children the opportunity to interact with others, acquire important pre-reading skills, develop their cognitive abilities, and communicate more fully with the world around them. Jefferson County Library Foundation is currently raising funds to support ASL Storytimes in 2014. 

Help us give the gift of reading to every child. Donate today!

Taking Early Literacy on the Road


One of our priorities as a library system is to provide literacy resources and experiences to the residents of Jefferson County, with special attention to the needs of children from birth to five. In many cases, we are the only place where new parents can bring their children to receive this type of support.

We are passionate about this! As I mentioned in my last blog, we host thousands of early literacy Storytimes every year, for tens of thousands of children who come to our libraries. However, in many cases, it’s children who don’t get to the library who need these services the most.

 Our Traveling Children’s Library delivers books and programs to children in Head Start and other low-income preschool classrooms. Through bilingual storytime visits and the delivery of supplemental books in English and Spanish, the TCL provides these children with greater exposure to books, reading and stories. And thanks to the Jefferson County Library Foundation, every child in these classrooms gets to take home a book of their own.

If you believe in the mission of our Traveling Children's Library, you can support it through our Foundation's year end appeal.

Give the gift of reading to every child. Donate today!

Halloween Storytimes at JCPL


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Every year at the Lakewood Library, children attending baby, toddler and preschool storytimes come in costume. At the end of storytime, they trick or treat with Library staff.

It’s a happy parade! The children have a blast, while learning to love books and the Library. The parents stand by, doting and taking pictures. And we're graced with a refreshing break in the day and a potent reminder of why we're here.

So, why do we offer these storytimes?

We know that more than 90 percent of brain development occurs when children are between the ages of birth and five. We know that reading aloud to babies and toddlers promotes positive brain development and delivers important pre-reading skills. And we know that many children in Jefferson County - especially those from economically challenged areas - don't have books and are not read to at home. 

That's why we hold thousands of storytimes every year, to give our youngest residents the best possible start in life. We work with parents and caregivers, too, to give them tools they can use at home to help their children become good readers.

Now, we'd like to do more!

The trick for us is to extend storytimes in as many ways and places as we can - in libraries, in preschool and daycare center locations, in multiple, diverse communities, and with particular attention to children with special needs.

You can help us achieve these goals by donating to the Jefferson County Library Foundation's year end appeal, which launched this week. Monies raised go to support storytimes and other literacy programs at JCPL.

The treat in all of this is the satisfaction of helping to build the next generation of successful and productive citizens in Jefferson County.

Help us give the gift of reading to every child. Donate today.

The Power of Partnership: Helping Kids Learn to Read

Pam Nissler

One of the Library's strategic priorities is to make literacy tools available to everyone in the County (and especially to children from birth to 5 and their caregivers). We know that children who enter school ready to read tend to perform better in school, have higher graduation rates and achieve more success in life than children who don't. We'd like to see every child in Jefferson County begin kindergarten with the basic skills they need to be ready to read.

We offer robust literacy tools to children and their caregivers through Library Storytimes, our Traveling Children's Library, and specialized computer programs in the children's areas in our Libraries. Now, we're working to extend those services through focused outreach and partnerships.

Here's an example. Recently, we partnered with Jefferson County Human Services to help them create a “Read to Your Kids” book corner in Room 110 of the Human Services Building.  (Room 110  is where citizens come to complete paperwork for assistance, and they often bring children with them.) We're providing posters and brochures with tips for parents on how to help their children learn to read, as well as fliers advertising our Storytimes.

This is a perfect opportunity to deliver information about the importance of reading to children to at-risk families in Jeffco. It gives the children something to do while their parents wait for appointments, and it gives parents concrete ideas of how to help their children.

Here are before and after photos of the project:

Thanks to Jeffco Human Services for the opportunity to extend our services to families in need!



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