Fort Myers, Fla, June 9, 2010– The Lee County Library System is one of seventy public libraries in 21 states selected by the American Library Association (ALA) to receive $5000 as part of the “American Dreams Starts @ your library®” literacy initiative. This initiative is funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
The grant funds will be used by the Lee County Library System (LCLS) to expand its current English Café program. This program, currently offered at four LCLS locations, provides adult learners with the opportunity to practice speaking English with native speakers. The money will provide for recruitment and training of additional volunteers to offer a new 10-week session of English Café at the Northwest Regional Library, purchase of additional literacy materials to support the program, and printing and distribution of publicity materials.
For more than a century, public libraries have been a cornerstone of the American Dream, providing equal access to information of all kinds. Libraries are among the first American institutions immigrants turn to for help in learning how to read, write and speak English. The LCLS English Café program provides the local immigrant community with access to a unique service not offered by other literacy providers in Lee County. Since October 2009 almost 250 non-native speakers have participated in the English Café program.