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Taking Our Mission Outside The Library's Walls

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is one of the region's most important educational institutions.

With more than 2.2 million visitors in 2009, many people already know about the Library's physical presence in their neighborhood. Yet, few are aware that the Library also has a strong network of partnerships to reach people outside of the library's walls.

One important collaboration is with the Pittsburgh Public Schools through the district's Extended Year Programs for elementary and middle school students.

Together, the Library and Pittsburgh Public Schools are developing reading interests and strong reading habits in students, so at-risk students return to school in the fall prepared to succeed. During the summer months, Library staff travel to various Pittsburgh Public Schools to provide literacy enrichment activities and extra learning support for students in the program.

"Each participating elementary school is visited once a week for four weeks," said Georgene DeFilippo, Youth Services Coordinator for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. "During each visit there is an interactive read-aloud, rich vocabulary discussion, critical thinking questions, a book exchange and a membership in the Library's Summer Reading Program. Incentives, including books, are distributed for achieving reading goals."

The challenges to promote and improve early literacy for children are clear. Nationally, one in five 11-year-olds still leaves primary school without reaching the state's proficiency standard in English. In Pennsylvania, one in five high school students fails to finish high school on time or drops out entirely. The graduation rates in Pittsburgh are even more alarming - only 65% of Pittsburgh Public School students graduate and 53% of 11th grade students are reading at a proficient level, as referenced at the Graduate Pittsburgh Summit, held in November, 2009.

For students attending the Pittsburgh Public School's Summer Dreamers Academy, an Extended Year Program for middle school students, literacy activities are the centerpiece of their morning programming. Library staff visit the program on a weekly basis, work with students to make selections for recreational reading and encourage them to stay connected to the Library. Students are also automatically registered for the Library's Summer Reading Program and receive a library card to make sure they have access to all that the Library has to offer.

"As young people gain their independence, we see a sharp drop off in interaction with the Library," said Karen Brooks-Reese, Teen Services Coordinator for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. "Our involvement with the Summer Dreamers Academy allows the Library to maintain a strong link to students and transition their library experience from Children's Services to Teen Services."

These programs would not be possible without the support of foundations and corporations that provide grants and the many individuals who support the Library's Annual Fund. With your support, and strong public funding, these important partnerships enrich the lives of the region's children.

Find out what you can do to make sure the Library remains strong.

Visit www.carnegielibrary.org/support.

Photographs by www.soraccophoto.com