The Lisle Library District always has been concerned about literacy, but not for the reason you may think.
Literacy isn’t only about learning to read. It is also of cultural, educational and economic significance for the Lisle community.
There is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.
Studies show that nearly 85 percent of the youth who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. More than
60 percent of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
The additional costs for healthcare due to illiteracy are significant in that medication, instructions and warnings cannot be read or understood. The economic significance of illiteracy, or marginal literacy, carries employment consequences in that job applications cannot be filled out, ads cannot be searched and the likelihood of advancing in a job in our information-rich society is minimal.
The Lisle Library District partners with Literacy of DuPage, providing free space for tutoring in our Literacy Room, which is always busy. There are 200 people on the waiting list in DuPage for tutoring or assistance.
I walk past this room daily and am touched by the patience of the literacy and job tutors, as well as the dignity and effort of those seeking to strengthen themselves. I feel blessed to be able to see the educational evolution of so many individuals.
Our library also offers two computers in the Literacy Room with language-learning software and a wonderful collection of specialized print resources. Our meeting room buzzes with learning conversation classes, which are heavily attended. Literacy of DuPage also offers workforce literacy programs and customized tutoring plans for individuals.
The Library’s Literacy Coordinator, Jean Demas, aligns resources and tutors in a true community effort. In today’s reality of shrinking resources and major challenges in finding employment, our community needs these services and resources more than ever.
The Lisle Library isn’t just concerned about literacy. We are doing something about it.
Shannon Halikias is director of the Lisle Public Library District