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Livingston Library Wins Grant to Expand Literacy Services for Adult English Language Learners

Successful program poised to take another important step forward


Every week, you can find 90 adult students taking English as Second Language (ESL) classes with 45 trained volunteer teachers at the Livingston Public Library. The vibrant, successful program, started in 2003 by volunteer Steve Werdenschlag and a team of five teachers, is now poised to take another important step forward thanks to a “The American Dream Starts @ Your Library” grant from the American Library Association and funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. 

The grant, in the amount of $7,430, will enable the library to expand its literacy services and in particular build programming in the area of skills needed to cope with everyday situations.  The Livingston Library is one of only 44 libraries nationwide to be awarded this grant.

“We are very pleased to receive this award, which supports our efforts to help the many individuals in Livingston for whom English is a second language,” said Judith Kron, director of the Livingston Public Library.  “We will use the funds to enhance our programs as we prepare immigrant adult residents for language, conversation, and especially activities of daily life.”

ESL learners need more than everyday language skills, added Kron. “They need to learn how to handle real life situations to survive and thrive in the unfamiliar American society. Immigrants need training with situations that Americans grow up with, such as making and cancelling appointments, talking with a doctor, asking questions of a child’s teacher, and dealing with government and police.

“The grant will help us provide exposure to situations the students might encounter, and provide students with the language, tools and confidence to behave appropriately.  What if your car is involved in an accident?  How do you make an emergency telephone call? What do you say and do if you are stopped by the police for a traffic violation?  What if you have to go to court? The training will include some essential differences in American culture, including the importance of eye contact.” 

The Livingston Library provides a welcome environment for Livingston’s vibrant and diverse community and considers lifelong learning needs a critical component of the Library’s mission.

Livingston’s grant proposal successfully demonstrated its “capacity, creativity, and commitment to providing literacy services for adult English language learners and their families,” said Dale Lipschultz, ALA’s Literacy Officer.

For additional information please contact Judith Kron, Director, at 973 992-4600, extension 222.

The accompanying photo shows community partners of the American Dream grant earned by the Livingston Public Library, which include the Livingston Police Department,  Friends of the Livingston Library and the Huaxia Livingston Chinese School.

Pictured are Police Officer Joy Klapal; Library Trustee/Friends of the Library Board member Barbara Bye; Huaxia Livingston Chinese School Board member Qingmei Bu (Joy); ESL coordinator Steve Werdenschlag; Assistant Library Director Amy Hyfler; and Police Officer Gary Mankowitz.   Not
shown are Library Director Judith Kron, Chief of Police Craig Handschuch, and Police Officer Stan Valles.

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