I was able to shadow the Librarian Lisa Williams and learn what it is like to be a librarian. The day began with her instructing an ESL class that was filled with about eleven students. These students were women from Hispanic and Asian countries who spoke very little English. Through a program that was started by Black Hawk College and The Moline Public Library these women came in once a week to work on their reading and communication skills by participating in a book club. The book that they all read was called Seed Folks by Paul Fleischman. The book is about a multi-cultural group of people who live in Cleveland and grow a community garden together.
The Librarian leads the class by asking a few questions about their own gardening experiences. She encourages them to describe their experiences and introduces new words for them to use in their conversations with each other. The women take turns reading aloud from the book and relay stories to each other about their experiences in their countries of origin and what they do differently here in the United States. The session does not last long, approximately half an hour. Then the women are taken to the children’s section and re-united with their children who have been playing and coloring with the Children’s services librarian. As the classes join, the activities that the parents and children take part in reflect the book that they have been reading. The parents are encouraged to sing and dance with their children while the librarian sings and reads to the families. After the story and songs are finished the children and parents get to plant a few vegetable seeds together to take home and plant in their own gardens.
The librarians have worked together to create this learning experience for both the children and the parents to encourage their learning and use of the language. I was impressed! I knew that there was much more to being a librarian than just putting books back on the shelf. There is a lot to this job, they design outreach programs like this one that encourage learning and are free to the public. They write for grants to help to maintain and create new and exciting activities for children and adults alike. They often times work together to create programs like this ESL class that encourages people to keep learning beyond the classroom. They are teachers to the community and provide as many services for free. This was an incredible experience to see what can be obtained with an English Degree.