Simplified: Siouxland Libraries have a new way to reach English language learners thanks to a $5,000 grant and partnerships with two local organizations.

Why it matters

  • It's all about removing barriers, Library Associate Emily Harris said. The books purchased using the grant funds are available for people to borrow regardless of whether they have a library card.
  • With the grant, Siouxland Libraries purchased 280 books with a focus on adults who are learning to speak English. Some books also have information to assist people with a GED and resume writing.
  • The grant also helped fund translation of the "How to use the library" page of the Siouxland Libraries website into several different languages. And even though the grant funds have been spent, the impact will continue, Harris said.
"We can keep using the books," she said. "We can add more places and keep doing this even though the grant is over. It's very sustainable."

So, how does the new program work?

Siouxland Libraries has been working with two partner organizations – Lutheran Social Services and Caminando Juntos – since it first started this program last April.

  • Each location has a spot where the library can set out books – for example, LSS has them outside one of the classrooms they use.

People can then borrow the books, just like they would any other library book, and bring them back when they're done. No library card needed.

  • Harris said she brings about 30 books to a location at a time, and when she comes to pick them up again, she gets an update on how many were borrowed.

So far, 55 books have been borrowed through the program.

"Fifty-five doesn't sound like a lot," Harris said. "But that's 55 more opportunities that people had to practice (English)."

What happens next?

The goal is to expand to more locations and reach more people, Harris said.