BASIC LITERACY ACTIVITIES AT REGINA PUBLIC LIBRARY
Regina public Library is continuing with basic literacy classes while at the same time expanding into new types of programs which will bring the number of reading classes being provided to a total of eight.
There are three different basic reading classes being made available at present. One class has been set up specifically for people at the Sheltered Workshop, another for teenagers of junior high or senior high school age who have either dropped out of school or are experiencing difficulties with the school curriculum because of reading difficulties and a third open to any adults in the city.
Apart from these basic literacy classes popular demand has encouraged the setting up of a speed reading and study skills program which includes emphasis on development of comprehension skills. Since this program is to be provided at noon hour in the downtown area~ it is anticipated that the greatest number of participants will be business men and government employees who have to read a large volume of job- related material.
A special program has also been established at a technical institute in the city for new students who are finding that they do not have sufficient reading and writing skills to cope with required reading and written assignments The class is taught at the institute and includes many of the methods and content of the Speed Reading class.
A tremendous demand has been experienced by the library for General Education Development (GED) Upgrading materials, so this has prompted the provision of a class to assist students with reading and other skills needed to study for these exams. The class will be very informal and individualized, concentrating on those skills which participants feel they need the most help with.
Upon resignation of the library's Learning Centre Director, a replacement was sought who was a reading specialist, able to diagnose reading problems! and to plan and teach reading classes. As a result of this search! Marianne Pearson was appointed in July 1976 Ms. Pearson has a degree in education with a major in remedial reading and extensive experience in adult upgrading as a reading specialist. This experience is proving invaluable in setting up the kind of program needed by the library's patrons. Our experience has indicated that libraries intending to be involved in providing a large number of reading programs need such expertise on staff or at least available as outside consultants. We also have an assistant in the Learning Centre, Heather Klemp, who has been teaching our reading classes almost since their inception and is also responsible for the day to day care and circulation of Learning Centre materials. This collection of high interest, low level "reading materials, reading kits and educational toys has greatly facilitated the individualization and freedom of our reading classes and given students easy accessibility to easy reading materials.
Almost all the classes have proved very time-consuming as the wide range of students from the very retarded to the bright normal have necessitated almost completely individualized teaching. However, the Literacy Volunteers of America materials have been the most used for the basic literacy classes for both testing and teaching. For students from the Sheltered Work- shop, many of them with very low intelligence, a system of pre-testing and testing after three months has been established. For a student to stay in the class for a further three month period they must have shown some improvement, however slight. Those showing no improvement are channelled, into another type of activity more in line with their potentiality. Those who show significant improvement can move into a Grade 4 - 10 class being provided by the Community College.
Other materials which have been very useful in our classes include the Laubach lesson plans which are to be put on Sound Page, a system which allows the student to both hear and see the lesson he is working with. The Mast program which has been put onto a teaching machine program so it can be used by students wishing to work on their own and a new four-week self-help program from Learn Incorporated which can be used by students as an aid to improving comprehension and memory.
Besides our reading classes, the last few months included a small publicity campaign during the week of World Literacy Day, in which we made a television appearance and had radio spot announcements, advertisements and news releases, promoting our reading classes and giving facts about the state of illiteracy in Canada.
Future plans include the training of volunteers to teach Sheltered Workshop students and to facilitate this the cosponsorship of a Literacy Volunteers of America workshop that can take in all basic literacy teachers in the province.
Our main problem at present is our inability to break down the stigma attached to illiteracy and to get non-referred individuals to come forward and acknowledge their need for help. In this regard, it is felt that the most welcome assistance that could be provided would be the production of popularized videotapes which could be used by local television stations to publicize reading classes which are available in the city.
In summary, it is business as usual at Regina public Library, but with new materials, new methods and a wider range of classes tailored to the problems of a larger pro- portion of people in the city.
As more libraries seek to become involved in literacy activities, it is important to know what has been successfully accomplished and what can be done by other libraries. The LVA Workshop will be held in May and there is already a list of people wanting to be trained as tutors. Good luck, Regina.)