Grunion Gazette: Long Beach Library Family Learning Centers Continue Growth
Happy 20th Anniversary to the Family Learning Center Program
On this day in 1999, the Long Beach Public Library with support from donations to the Long Beach Public Library Foundation opened the Family Learning Center at Burnett Neighborhood Library. This center was the first of the Family Learning Centers at the Long Beach Public Libraries where students of all ages can obtain free one-on-one homework help and job seekers can receive support with résumé building and job searches.
In the 20 years since its founding, the FLC program has evolved to serve our community’s needs. In 2014, the digital makerspace Studio program was established as an extension of the FLC program and includes technology and instruction in 3D printing, graphic design, robotics, coding, and more. In 2016, the FLC program expanded its services even further by including a virtual component. Through online Brainfuse services, anyone with a library card can access homework and job search help from home, school or anywhere with an internet connection.
In 2018, the Family Learning Centers hosted 22,281 individual sessions and the makerspace Studios and Mobile Studio served 10,850 individuals with STEM learning workshops. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donors.
You can support our Library Foundation funded programs and help the Family Learning Center program continue for 20 more years. Whether you give $5 or $500, your tax-deductible donation makes a difference.
A Family Developing Their Future at the FLC
Sagrario works hard to help her children to succeed. She is a mother to three daughters and one son, all high school students, who need assistance with challenging homework and are preparing for college. Although she does not speak English, Sagrario found a great resource at the Long Beach Public Library to give her children the guidance they need.
Sagrario and her children are one of many families in Long Beach that cannot afford an Internet connection. According to a 2016 American Community Survey, an estimated 1 in 4 Long Beach households lacks an adequate portal to the Internet. This makes researching and completing homework difficult for her kids who are usually required to complete their assignments with the use of a computer.
A little over a year ago, Sagrario and her children were looking for a quiet place to study at the Dana Neighborhood Library. It was there that they discovered the Dana Library Family Learning Center. The space is equipped with computers, a printer, text books and, most importantly, a qualified Learning Guide is available to provide one-on-one assistance with homework. They currently visit the Family Learning Center about four days per week.
The Family Learning Center program began in 1999 with the support of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation to provide students and job seekers with one-on-one guidance and resources. Initially, a Family Learning Center was established at the Main Library and each neighborhood branch library. The program has evolved through the years to include virtual tools and the Library’s makerspace Studio program with instruction in advanced technology. In the Library’s 2018 fiscal year, the Family Learning Center program held 22,281 sessions thanks to generous donations to the Library Foundation.
“The Family Learning Center has helped me actually get my homework done on time with my crazy schedule,” said Sagrario’s daughter.
After they are done with homework, her children use the computers in the Family Learning Center to look up colleges they would like to attend. They are currently looking at universities in Hawaii and Utah.
From Job Seeker to Paralegal
Megan needed a job so she turned to the Library Foundation supported Family Learning Center at the Mark Twain Neighborhood Library. Read her letter of gratitude below.
I have been searching for a job in my new profession for 18 months and have had no luck…until today! I just received an offer letter to which I accepted.
The library resources at Mark Twain have been a God-send during my search. In addition, the Library staff have been extremely supportive and so kind. They truly made my job search experience better by just being here. They have been so supportive and helpful. It felt as if they were part of my job search team.
I earned my paralegal certificate and finally was offered a paralegal position at a tremendous family law practice so I would like to thank you.
I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life.
A Nurturing Place to Succeed – Nariah’s Story
Nariah has been visiting the Family Learning Center since her sophomore year of high school. High school can be a stressful time with difficult classes and all the preparation it takes to graduate and move on to the next step. When Nariah first discovered the Library, she would usually go to Dana Neighborhood Library or Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library and do her homework in the public space. Even though she was able to get her work done, she discovered that the Family Learning Centers at both branches provide an environment that was more helpful to her.
Because she doesn’t have a computer with internet access at home, Nariah appreciates that the Family Learning Centers have computers she can use. The centers are staffed by Learning Guides offering one-on-one guidance for homework and research.
“The Library is a big reason reason I push myself to be something. I enjoy meeting new people and the staff. I feel comfortable in this environment.”
Today, Nariah is a Library volunteer and enjoys supporting the librarians and staff who have supported her.
The Family Learning Center program is funded by the Library Foundation and offers support to students, job seekers, seniors, veterans, and anyone else who visits the Library looking for guidance with a project or research. You can support this program with a tax-deductible donation to celebrate National Library Month. CLICK HERE
New Year, New FLC: How Our Family Learning Center Program Has Evolved
In 1999, a handful of generous donors invested startup funds into a new Long Beach Public Library program called the Family Learning Centers (FLCs). The goal of this program was to create space within each of city’s twelve libraries in which students and their parents could obtain free, one-on-one homework help and tutoring. The centers, staffed by highly qualified Learning Guides, would also help parents with résumés, cover letters and job searches. Since then, the Family Learning Centers have expanded greatly both in the services they offer and the number of patrons they serve.
In 2014, the digital makerspace Studio program was established as an extension of the Family Learning Center program, putting state-of-the-art technology, such as 3D printers, recording software and virtual reality, into the hands of patrons of all ages. Through grants and personal donations, the Library Foundation supports the salaries of Studio Guides who teach STEM skills like engineering, coding, video game design, music production, graphic design, and other marketable jobs skills, free to patrons of all ages. Some of the most popular services include STEM workshops for school age children, including a 6-week Maker Camp and a partnership with Dramatic Results for a summer STEM camp.
In 2016, the FLC program expanded its services even further by including a virtual component. Through Brainfuse HelpNow and Brainfuse JobNow, anyone with a library card can access these homework and job search services free from home, school or anywhere with an internet connection. Brainfuse Helpnow is a live tutorial for all ages and levels in math, reading, writing, science and social studies, including SAT preparation. This means that patrons can work with a real live expert in the subject they need any time of day, even from the convenience of their own home or school. Brainfuse JobNow provides library patrons with a host of services to help in every step of the job search process, while making job coaches available to them directly. Both of these services directly address some of the most frequent needs of library patrons.
This online component multiplied the services offered by our Family Learning Centers, causing the program to expand beyond the walls of the original centers. It allowed the library to reprogram the high demand physical space to be used for children’s story time, community events and other programming, and allowed the Library to shift limited staff resources to the branches that need them most. Every year, Library administration reevaluates staffing needs, scheduling Learning Guides at branches with the highest demand. While this does mean that a few branches may not have a dedicated space and Learning Guide on site full-time, the digital aspects of the program mean that more patrons are served than ever before. If a student walks into any of our 12 libraries with a homework question, they will be connected with a qualified library staff member ready to help them.
In 2015, Tesoro (now Andeavor), the LGA Family Foundation and the California Resources Corporation contributed grants to the Library Foundation to launch a Mobile Studio program. The library launched a specially equipped makerspace Studio van to travel around the city and host programs at local elementary schools, parks and street fairs across Long Beach. The Mobile Studio has made its presence known at large community events such as Music Tastes Good, the LBPL Zine Fest, MOLAA’s Day of the Dead Celebration and mini maker fairs. The Mobile Studio also provides classes at 10 parks to students of all ages as part of the Long Beach Be S.A.F.E. initiative during the summer. More than 1,200 participants attended classes, workshops and demonstrations in 2017.
Last year, more than 22,000 FLC sessions were held with more than 11,000 patrons, and 4,300 sessions were hosted in the studios at Main and Michelle Obama Libraries. The demand for these services continues to grow. 2017 saw a 21% increase in total FLC sessions from the previous year. This year, our library aims to continue to broaden their reach. But resources are limited and without the help of Library Foundation donors, this program would not be possible.
We are grateful to those who believed in this initiative enough to make those early investments, and to those who continue to support it year to year. These donors understand that libraries are a good investment in our community. The Family Learning Center program is an incredible example of how libraries can transform communities. Together we can make an extraordinary impact!
Family Learning Center Program Founding Donors
American Honda Employees’ Fund
The LeBurta Atherton Foundation
Bank of America
Margaret B. Brenneman Estate
Diane Jacobus in memory of Helen O’Brien Wade
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Don Knabe)
Long Beach Energy Department
Charles and Jean Lane
Los Angeles Times Family Fund
The Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation
The Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation
Southern California Edison
The Studio and Mobile Studio Founding Donors
California Resources Corporation
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The LGA Family Foundation
Long Beach Community Action Partnership
Long Beach Community Foundation
Women’s City Club of Long Beach
A Story from the Library – Aarron and Erica
A second grader named Aarron Coleman once walked across the street from his school to the Burnett Neighborhood Library for the first time. After school, the library buzzes with young students looking for a safe place to go in a neighborhood where the poverty rate is nearly double the city average. Aarron was looking to check out a book, but he found so much more.
In the decade since Aarron first walked into that library, he has grown into an impressive young man, He could often be found in the Library’s Family Learning Center working with a Learning Guide on his homework. As he entered middle school, his homework assignments became more demanding, including reports on historical events, analysis of great literary works, advanced math problems, and science projects. The Long Beach Public Library has supported him and his family along the way.
The Family Learning Centers, funded by the Library Foundation, are available to patrons at each of the 12 city libraries. Learning Center Guides provide vital academic support in the areas of math, science, technology, English language learning and job skills enhancement. Thousands of families like Aarron’s rely on the Family Learning Centers for homework help, job search and résumé support.
Aarron is now a senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School where he plays on the football team, studies hard in four Advanced Placement classes, participates in Mock Court, and serves as an ambassador to the local middle schools on college readiness and library resources. He has worked very hard for his success and through the years he has received crucial guidance from senior librarian, Erica Lansdown.
When you meet Erica, it is immediately clear that she has a passion and gift for helping students. Erica has worked at Burnett Library for over a decade. She recalls fondly how Aarron grew from a mischievous boy, discovering and learning so much through library programs. Like all LBUSD third graders, Aarron received a free dictionary through the Library’s Dictionary Days, a Long Beach Public Library Foundation program supported by the Miller Foundation. Aarron still has that dictionary today, and he even volunteered at last year’s Dictionary Days festivities.
Today, Aarron is very busy with school and extracurricular activities, but he still visits the Burnett Neighborhood Library to catch up with Erica. He discusses his college applications with her and is already thinking ahead to law school. One of his college application essays focuses on how the library made a difference in his life.
The programs that Aarron participated in throughout his childhood are supported by the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and are made possible thanks to your generous support. You can help the library keep and grow these vital programs with your donation.
Your investment in our libraries, and library patrons like Aarron, shapes the future for them and for our city.
Help us write more stories like Aarron and Erica’s at LBPLfoundation.org/donation