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June 22, 2010 > Library in good standing

Library in good standing

By Shavon Walker

Mira Geroy, Union City Library Branch Manager, presented a state-of-the-library report to Union City Council on June 15, 2010.

There has been a 216 percent increase in library use since 1998. Between 1998 and 2009, circulation of materials, including audio-books and e-books, are up by 253 percent. The gate count, or tally of visitors to the library, has risen by 351 percent and the amount of reference and information questions answered has grown by 195 percent. Program-attendance increase is second only to volunteering; attendance has gone up by 707 percent.

Volunteering has increased by 809 percent. This includes teens and adults who choose to serve the community by donating their time in the library. This year the Union City branch of the Alameda County Library added a one-on-one computer tutoring program and introduced volunteers to the homework center, after school, Monday through Thursday.

Illustrative photographs of the programs were also shown, such as the Multicultural Program series. There was large Chinese New Year celebration with dancers, all kinds of traditional music, Chinese calligraphy and games. Almost 300 attended.

A new program, Family Place Libraries, has just been implemented at the branch library. Family Place Libraries was implemented from January to June 2010 and entailed new space design, additional equipment and furniture, family-oriented programs and an expanded parenting collection area.

In 2010, the library was one of 13 public libraries in Alameda County to receive a competitive Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) federal grant to fund the program. To prepare, staff underwent four day's training in Los Angeles to learn the program's core components - identify early childhood and family support resources; locate suitable library materials for toddlers and parents; create developmentally appropriate programming; research environment and design for the library; more outreach to new audiences; build coalitions; engage professionally-trained staff.

The grant has two components - training and implementation. $10,000 was expended on training for two staff members. $13,000 was used for furniture, equipment and educational learning materials. Alameda County Library provided $2,000 for parenting collection and $11,000 staff costs. The Friends of Union City Library contributed $1,000 toward brochures and informational materials for the program.

Family Place Libraries provide healthy child and family development, encourage parent and community involvement and facilitate life-long learning beginning at birth. In addition, the program supports families and children with a learning environment.

"The average child's brain develops up to 90 percent of its capacity by the time it is three years old; having the child in surroundings that stimulate learning will allow for a more socially, emotionally and intellectually healthy youth and adult in the long run. Life-long learning is a mission for all Alameda County libraries," stated Geroy.

The program will allow the library to expand children's services, which includes babies, toddlers and adults working with children. The library will also develop programs and services which focus on brain development, early literacy and parent education. It will integrate developmentally appropriate practices and help design welcoming spaces and places for families with young children.

Family Place objectives are designed to encourage the children to learn in a healthy, fun environment. One of the program's tenets is "Play equals Learning." The program also encourages parents to engage with their children, not only to reinforce the bond between parent and child, but to ensure both participate in the learning process. Consequently, parents become more confident in their role as their child's first teacher.

Since 1997, more than 22 states have joined the Family Place Libraries network. There are clusters in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania.

To learn more about this program, visit For more information about Union City Library, visit

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