Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White awarded $5,700,000 in FY15 Adult Literacy Grants and $289,310 in 2015 Project Next Generation (PNG) Grants. The Adult Literacy Grants are for helping students develop and enhance their reading, math, writing, and language skills.
“I am pleased to provide over 100 local literacy providers with funding that will allow adult students to achieve their utmost potential,” Secretary White said. “I will continue to do all I can to ensure that every citizen of this state has access to quality literacy programs.”
According to the Illinois State Library (I.S.L.), “Nearly 22,000 students are served by adult literacy programs across the state. More than 8,500 volunteer tutors provide training for students to obtain skills that put them on the path to lifelong learning. Adult literacy projects help Illinois adults, who read below the ninth grade level or speak English at a beginner level, to improve their reading, writing, math and English language skills.”
The Secretary of State’s Illinois State Library Literacy Office administers the Adult Literacy Program and awards grants in three categories:
(1) Adult Volunteer Literacy Grants provide training for volunteers who tutor adults over age 16 in basic reading, math, writing or language skills. Participating literacy providers may include libraries, volunteer tutoring organizations, community-based organizations, community colleges, regional offices of education, schools (individual and public), pre-school programs, school districts, domestic-violence shelters and correctional facilities.
(2) Penny Severns Family Literacy Grants provide educational services to parents and children to enhance basic reading, math, writing or language skills. Programs must partner with an adult literacy provider, child-at-risk agency and a library.
(3) The Workplace Skills Enhancement Project provides onsite instructional services to employees of participating Illinois businesses, enabling them to enhance their basic reading, math, writing or language skills and improve their chances for promotion. Eligible employees must read at or below the 9th grade level. Grantees must match the grant award and may also provide instructional services to prospective employees. The fiscal agent and submitting agency may be either the educational partner or the business partner.
People interested in becoming volunteer tutors are encouraged to contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 1-800-321-9511. One can contact Cindy Colletti at 217-524-3529 or by email at ccolletti [at] ilsos.net for information about a specific library.
According to the I.S.L., “Project Next Generation is the first-ever statewide mentoring program to be administered through Illinois public libraries. Project mentors work with young students at public libraries to develop technological skills and guide them in exploring life skills such as effective communication, goal-setting and conflict resolution.”
“I am committed to improving the lives of young, at-risk children in Illinois,” said Mr. White. “I established this innovative program when I first became Secretary of State to give students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the latest technological tools at their local library.”
With funds provided through the Library Services and Technology Act, the Secretary of State/I.S.L.’s Diversity Program administer the Project Next Generation (P.N.G.) Grants. The I.S.L. stated, “Grants are awarded to public libraries serving culturally diverse, low-income and underserved populations.” To meet the grant’s criteria, a library must be able to deliver the program’s projects, meet the Children’s Internet Protection Act guidelines and have high innovative interest.
More than 6,600 students have participated in the P.N.G. program since its inception in 2000, and 600 mentors have generously offered their time to provide training for students to help them obtain technology skills while encouraging lifelong learning.
P.N.G. Grant recipients include the following public libraries: the Beardstown Houston Memorial Library, the Bloomington Public Library, Carbondale Public Library, the Centralia Regional Library District, the Champaign Public Library, the Chicago Ridge Public Library, the Decatur Public Library, the Elmwood Park Public Library, the Harrisburg Public Library, the Hayner Public Library, the Joliet Public Library, the Kankakee Public Library, the Kewanee Public Library District, the Matteson Public Library, the Mississippi Valley Library District, the Moline Public Library, the Pekin Public Library, the Lincoln Branch of the Peoria Public Library, the Richton Park Public Library, the Sparta Public Library, and the Zion-Benton Public Library. In FY2014, White awarded sixteen grants worth a total of $211,900. They ranged in size from $12,500 to $40,000.
The I.S.L. stated, “Project Next Generation (PNG) is an important part of our programming. PNG is an opportunity for 5th–8th graders to come to the library, have fun and learn something new about technology along the way. Boys and girls experience new technologies and software that they can use while building their future. We often try to incorporate free software, where they can get started at the library, and excel in their homes. At home, they share their learned skills with friends and families. PNG builds confidence and creates a social network where kids of various schools have a chance to come together and create lasting friendships.”
Project Next Generation provides minority and low-income middle school students with opportunities to develop computer skills and self-confidence by using the newest computer technologies, such as digital cameras, scanners, and projects, as well as, many dynamic software packages. Through various projects, such as interviewing each other and creating personal profiles, the students develop a team concept of working together…
Project Next Generation brings weekly programming with a technological theme to students in grades 3–12, with the main focus on students in sixth though ninth grades. The program also gives the children an opportunity to become more familiar with technology, which has become more prevalent in today’s society. If not for Project Next Generation, the children may not otherwise have the chance to use the new Technology (i.e. using an eReader). Not only does this program help the youth in our community adapt to today’s technological society, but also it allows them the opportunity to be a contributor to society and to use technology in a positive, responsible, and productive manner...
*Illinois Regional Library Systems Rules and Standards Changes*
Several years ago, two statewide committees appointed by the I.S.L. Director, Anne Craig, began drafting revisions to the administrative rules and standards for Illinois Regional Library Systems. When the committees’ work was nearing completion, financial pressures resulted in the merger of nine of the Illinois Regional Library Systems into two. Consequently, revision of the rules and standards was placed on hold while the new, larger systems were established.
I.S.L. staff members have used the committees’ work as a starting point for the revision process in 2014. Because of the extensive changes, they drafted a complete new set of administrative rules and standards.
Prior to submitting the proposed changes to the I.S.L. Advisory Committee for review, in September 2014, the I.S.L. is seeking input from librarians. The administrative rules will not go through the official rule-making process until this fall.
The proposed rules changes include:
• Clarification of library system membership requirements, including the phase-out of developmental libraries in five years.
• Revised library system standards, focusing on core system services.
• A requirement that public libraries participate in statewide reciprocal borrowing as a condition of system membership. The revisions to the ILLINET Interlibrary Loan Code, proposed a statewide committee earlier this year.
The proposed changes and comment area are available on the Illinois Library System Administrative Rules and Standards blog. Comments should be submitted by Monday, August 18, 2014.
 At the present time, system-wide reciprocal borrowing is required, while statewide reciprocal borrowing is optional. At the time the present rule was introduced, there were eighteen Illinois Regional Library Systems. With only three library systems now – the Chicago Public Library System, the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (R.A.I.L.S.), and Illinois Heartland Library System (I.H.L.S.) – more than 95% of public libraries participate in statewide reciprocal borrowing.