Using Libraries to Bridge the Information Gap for Adult Learners

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The mission of a local library is to promote reading and learning, offer patrons access to information, and become a community-gathering center. As author David VinJamuri states,   libraries are dynamic, versatile, community centers. More than half of young adults and seniors living in poverty used public libraries to access the Internet to find work, apply to college, secure government benefits, and learn about critical medical treatments. For all this, public libraries cost just $42 per citizen each year to maintain. So, how do we harness all of these resources to assist patrons achieve their High School Equivalency Certificates? The answer is working with librarians!

The Social Studies and Science Portions of High School Equivalency exams require students to have background knowledge in several areas. Reading helps build vocabulary, and helps learners build knowledge. Below are the general topics in these areas and some suggested materials.

Let’s start with what students need to know. They need to have an understanding of language. How do authors tell a story? Students need to make inferences, draw conclusions, and make predictions. All of this requires experience as a reader.

Using literature helps connect all the reading and language skills with content areas. Examples could include Watson’s Go To Birmingham – 196 by Christopher Paul Curtis, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, or An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy. Each of these books provide insight to specific time periods in history from World War II, Civil Rights, and even early American history.

Librarians are experts in young adult literature. They can help students find relevant books that connect both literature with building background knowledge. Encouraging students to access libraries will help with the following skill development:

  • Students learn about diversity beyond their community.
  • Demonstrates how institutions work in society.
  • Introduces readers to exceptional writing and assists them in learning how to analyze literature.

As adult educators, we need to reach out to our libraries. We need to engage in dialogue about the skills students need to have in order to achieve their academic success, and we need to rely on their expertise in selecting quality literature for our students. Libraries provide exceptional resources and we need to empower our learners to take full advantage of the resources.

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