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Tulare County driven to better literacy

Tulare County driven to better literacy

Tulare County Library services are awarded $100,00 grant for literacy mobile unit


VISALIA – While the internet is widely regarded as the information super-highway, Tulare County Library’s information is just on the highway. But it is reaching kids and parents in the far reaches of the county.

At last week’s Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting the Board approved a $100,000 Library Services and Technology Act grant for a “Read to Succeed Library and Literacy Mobile Unit.” This LSTA grant provides funds during the grant period, July 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020, to purchase a new vehicle for the purpose of providing library and literacy outreach services. 

The goal is to provide these services and mobile internet access to those in the most rural and underserved areas of the community, where services are currently unavailable: remote small towns, labor camps, and farming communities. Adult, family, and early childhood literacy, citizenship information, English as a second language services, and GED/High school diploma tutoring, as well as Library and internet services, could be offered to every resident in Tulare County, which is both diverse and underserved due to economics and the considerable distance between the larger cities and smaller outlying communities. This vehicle could also assist with outreach efforts at community events, schools, etc. 

Tulare County Library started the process in March of this year when they prepared and submitted a letter of intent to the California State Library for the grant. The library received notification that their letter was accepted and the application could move forward. On May 7, the Board authorized the library to apply for the LSTA grant, and the application was submitted on May 20. On July 9 the library received official notification of the State Library’s approval of the grant application and an award of $100,000 to support the proposed “Read to Succeed Library and Literacy Mobile Unit.” 

This year the library has been making some wave to get books in hands. As recently as last month the library no longer charged for items checked out and returned past their due dates. The Library joins over 50 library systems nationwide, and the first in the San Joaquin Valley, to eliminate late fines, joining Oakland, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, and San Mateo counties in California.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved eliminating late fees at all Tulare County Library branches at its April 30 meeting. Under the old system, accumulated late fines and fees could block a patron from using free library services such as borrowing materials, using the computers and searching the online databases. The library’s resources aid in many areas, including adult literacy, early literacy and school readiness for children, lifelong learning for school and beyond, and job skills and employment resources. Access to these resources changes the lives of Tulare County residents every day. In addition to issues of literacy, Darla Wegener said these fines may also prevent patrons from using the library’s free computers. She said many low-income families use the internet access at the library to pay bills, apply for jobs, pay their taxes, complete homework assignments, as well as research and write documents for school.

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