By Graceanne A. Decandido
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Additional resources for Literacy and Libraries: Learning from Case Studies
At the start of this process students expressed concerns, but as the classes progressed, the team members learned to do “community corrections,” work with poetry to teach tense shifts and comprehension, facil- Relearning Literacy and Leadership 37 itate group learning, and assist with editing. Although the students were acquiring skills to teach the basics of literacy, team members were still fearful about their capacity as tutors. As the students compared traditional literacy practices and notions with the thinking of Freire and others, they expanded their attention to other elements of the literacy program.
Adult educators in traditional programs sometimes claim that they begin from where the student is. 1 Second Start At Oakland Public Library, in our Second Start Adult Literacy Program, we have spent the last five years changing our literacy program into a learner-centered participatory literacy model, with great success and more than a few lessons learned. 2 These literacy programs, for the most part, are run by community-based organizations. The challenge of instituting learnercentered participatory literacy education in a library literacy program is that we operate in public libraries, which, despite some instances of enlightened management style, are still often bureaucratic, hierarchical institutions.
The staff still decided the direction of the literacy program and the content of the classes. Tutors still used a topdown banking model of teaching. Our reality did not live up to our vision. It took a three-year grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund to encourage and enable us to begin setting up a truly learner-centered literacy program. Some highlights of changes we made include: we hired students to be on our staff, set up advisory groups of students, changed our way of doing business in the literacy office, changed our mission statement, and changed our public relations materials.
Literacy and Libraries: Learning from Case Studies by Graceanne A. Decandido