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Library Receives American Dream Grant for ESL Materials

The Cordova Branch of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center was awarded the American Library Association’s American Dream Starts @ Your Library grant to boost its English as a second language collection. Currently, 7% of the branch’s customers speak a language other than English. The award of $5,000 will go to purchase books and other materials in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Spanish, Tagolog, and Vietnamese.

Director of Libraries Keenon McCloy is thankful for the funds. “This grant will help us meet the need of a growing customer base and provide better educational and recreational options for customers,” McCloy said. McCloy is also hopeful an expanded ESL collection will serve as catalyst for additional services for adult English learners. “This grant creates great opportunities for churches, community groups, and literacy volunteers to take advantage of the collection and begin ESL classes at the Library.” Literacy Mid-South is an organization that has expressed a desire to partner.

Cordova Branch already offers a unique program called International Language Storytime. The brain child of librarian Sharon Evrard, the interactive format features culturally-infused books paired with music, dance, and even food from the highlighted country. Evrard says presenting the International Language Storytime on select Saturdays is a win-win. Families get to share their heritage and customs while others learn about different cultures. In the past, Chinese, German, and Arabic have been featured.

The American Dream Starts @ Your Library grant is funded by the Dollar General Foundation, and it was created to help public libraries increase their literacy services to adult English language learners. Seventy libraries across the U.S. will receive one-time awards of $5,000; Memphis Public Library & Information Center is the only public library in Tennessee selected.

For more information, call 754-8443.