The Garcia family, from left, Jacob, India, 4, Stacy, Ivy, 6 months, Isla, 2, and Isabella, 7, enjoy a reading nook in the children's area of the new Gilroy library.

After being physically estranged for the past 20 years, the Reading Program – Santa Clara County’s largest literacy initiative and “prodigal son” of the Gilroy Library – is celebrating its spacious new office on the first floor of the library building.

“We’re finally where we belong,” said Stephanie Lane, literacy specialist at the Reading Program.

Despite being a major service of the Santa Clara County Library, the Reading Program has been stuck off site since 1991, in a cramped office on Martin Street near OD’s Kitchen, because the former library building did not have the space to accommodate them.

“This is a very dramatic change, and we’re so happy to be here,” Lane said from across a table in the new Reading Program office on Wednesday, an ample–sized room with  tables, chairs, bookshelves and five computers.

The program offers free one-on-one tutoring for adults with library cards who want to improve their reading and writing skills. Lane said that the program is learner-oriented, meaning students come in with specific goals that range from very basic – how to read a map or write a check – to things like finishing their high school degree or filing out job applications.

Lorena Cholula, Reading Program literacy specialist, said that she is hoping the program can piggyback on the excitement over the new library building and use it to expand.

“Being here will really build a bridge between us and the library,” Cholula said. Cholula said that having immediate access to the library’s resources, such as books and expert staff will create opportunity for “organic” teaching moments during tutoring sessions.

“We’ll be able to easily match people to books they might be interested in, and get the book in their hand right away.”

Not to mention the advantage of drumming up interest in the program via library foot traffic, Cholula.

Right now, there are 24 volunteer tutors in Gilroy, who each tutor one student. There are currently six students on the waiting list – and the demand for tutors is expected to grow after the library’s grand opening Saturday.

“The need for tutors is very real,” Lane said.

Lane said that 16.1 percent of residents in Santa Clara County are considered functionally illiterate, lacking basic skills like reading the newspaper or filling out a job application.

The program, which began in 1985 as California’s first literacy initiative, serves nine cities within the county library system. Three permanent staff run the reading program in Gilroy. Lani Yoshimura, head librarian, said that the Gilroy office will become the headquarters for the program throughout the county.

She is thrilled that after 20 years of separation, the Reading Program is where it should have been all along, Yoshimura said.

“It’s wonderful they are finally coming home,” she said.

Previous articleSOFTBALL: Monterey hands Christopher first league loss
Next articleThe Monterey Bay Aquarium: Another dimension


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here