PCPL looks into tutoring program

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Putnam County Public Library Board met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss future projects as well as hold a mandatory public hearing on the 2013 budget.

The public hearing started off the meeting, but with no visitors, the board moved on to its routine issues.

After approving the financial reports as well as the claims and checks, the board heard from guest speaker Ellen Dittmer of the Reading Improvement Center.

Dittmer and a group of teachers established the center, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, with a mission of providing low-cost individual reading help to children and adults.

"I found a lot of kids were struggling with reading," Dittmer said. "I thought in a community like this, it'd be nice to have affordable tutoring."

Over the years the center has evolved from a simple tutoring program to one with a solid curriculum.

"The tutor's job is engaging students," Dittmer explained. "We are giving them (students) a new way at looking at sounds."

The center, which uses mainly DePauw University students as tutors, focuses on bringing words to life using the idea of playing with sounds and introducing sound effects to bring out vocabulary.

"There are just so many different needs in the community," Dittmer said. "We provide kids with something that is more engaging."

The "Tutoring at Gobin" program provides after-school reading and homework help four days a week at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church.

Tutors also provide in school tutoring at Greencastle High School as well as tutoring at the Knoy Resource Center in Cloverdale.

Dittmer came before the board in hopes of developing a community-based tutoring program along with the Putnam County Library.

"Long term I think there are real possibilities for community-based tutoring," Dittmer said.

The board, expressing interest in the idea, plans on revisiting the issue in the future.

The Reading Improvement Center is funded by area donors and organizations and is a partner of United Way of Putnam County.

The library will once again be requiring patrons to check out its magazines as there has been a rise in theft.

"We've found that a lot of people are stealing our magazines," library director Alice Greenburg said. "We are starting to barcode them. They will now get an overdue notice, which will be a change for people."

Greenburg also updated the board on the status of the new library website, which will be launching soon.

The site will be a lot cleaner and allow staff members to update their own pages rather than wait for the head of technology to do so. This new change will help notices launch faster as well as keep everything as up to date as it can be.

The board also passed a resolution to continue in the State Library Consortium for Internet Access.

"The state library has a consortium that libraries can join that provides access to Internet connectivity through one company," Greenburg explained. "This is so we don't all have to go out and find our own provider. The state library gets the bids for us and hires a company to provide for all the libraries in the consortium."

By doing so, the board is eligible to receive a grant for a $2,500 along with a 70 percent discount with e-rate service, a federal program.

"They (the Indiana State Library) also take care of applying for the e-rate discount, which for us is 70 percent, that's huge," Greenburg said. "In addition to the federal e-rate discount, the state library has a grant that usually comes from the Build Indiana Fund. All the libraries in the consortium then get a grant which offsets a large portion of the remainder, for us it's 30 percent."

The library is then left to pay for the remainder of the Internet fee, however, due to all these incentives, it is very minimal.

Finally, the board reviewed the state standards for libraries. Although, there is no incentive from the state to do more than just meet the standards, the standards are set in place to encourage libraries to maintain a minimum level of service and establish criteria for eligibility to receive state and federal appropriations.

The Putnam County Public Library is in compliance with all state standards and received an above average rating in collection expenditures, young adult services, public access computers, hours of service, adult services and children's services.

The next meeting date for the Library Board is Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.

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