National Leadership Grants for Library-Museum Collaboration

The Athens-Clarke County Library in partnership with the Lyndon House Arts Center is working to enhance cultural understanding and educational opportunities for the local Mexican-American community and the greater Athens community. A three year Leadership grant enables the library and arts center to conduct this exciting pilot project titled "Bridging the Gap Family to Family: Athenian-Mexican Cultural Exchange and Learning."

Project goals include:

Bridging the Gap Family to Family: Athenian-Mexican Cultural Exchange and Learning.

Each month, project staff will post key project activities. Join us on our journey!

Year 1 - 2004 / 2005

September 2004

On September 21, our Library Director Kathryn Ames receives a call from Senator Zell Miller's office to announce that our application for a 2004 National Library/Museum Leadership Grant was selected for funding. The Institute of Museum and Library Services received 66 applications in this category and funded 19. Our grant is a three year project with IMLS funding totaling $260,030.

We promptly share our good news with all the folks who wrote letters of support for our project: Remedios Gomez Arnau, Consul General of Mexico; David Singleton, Deputy Director Georgia Public Library Service; Butch McDuffie, Director, Athens Transit; Evan Firestone, Professor of Art History, University of Georgia; Sister Margarita Martin, Director, Oasis Catolico Santa Rafaela; Brent Berlin, Director and Professor, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Georgia; Glenn Ames, Director and Professor, Office of International Public Service and Outreach, University of Georgia; Margarita Tejeda, Translator, Clarke County Schools; Terry Salguero, Mutlticultural Social Service Worker, Northeast Georgia Presbytery; and Rev. Jose Torres, Athens Area Hispanic Ministry Expansion.

October 2004

During October, project staff meets once a week to work on our IMLS project, discussing portable classroom design, facility hours, furnishings, job descriptions, program development, collection development, art exhibits, and the establishment of an advisory panel. Meeting location alternates between the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Lyndon House Arts Center. As identified in our grant application, Pinewoods Estates North, a large and primarily Hispanic mobile home park, is the target location for our new Learning Center. On October 6, project staff drives into Atlanta to visit Williams-Scotsman, a provider of portable classrooms, to see what is available and at what price. We also visit Satellite Shelters, another portable classroom provider. We learn that due a good deal of recent hurricane damage in the Southeast, demand for portable facilities has increased dramatically, as has cost. Satellite Shelters suggests a year old classroom (64' x 24') currently located at an Atlanta church. Their lease has just expired, and from its description, it sounds like this unit may serve our purposes.

On October 7, project staff visits Pinewoods Estates to select a lot to house our new facility. A lot adjoining Oasis Catolico, one of our project supporters, is our choice as it makes a convenient meeting and activity center for the community.

Mid-October, the library receives a call from the Mexican Consulate informing us of a training opportunity sponsored by the Mexican Department of Education in Michoacan, Mexico for providers of Plaza Comunitaria.

The Mexican Department of Education funds the trip except for airfare. George Webber, a bi-lingual library staff member, is asked to attend, and he flies out on October 17 for a week of intensive training.

On October 22, project staff visits Rocksprings Presbyterian Church in Atlanta to see the Satellite Shelter classroom that has become available. It is ideal - three classrooms, a large foyer and two handicapped accessible restrooms. An added bonus is its skirting and decking that can be moved to our Pinewoods location. A contract with Satellite Shelters is signed. Staff initiates the building permit process with the county.

November 2004

Project staff from the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Lyndon House Arts Center continues to meet weekly. The building permit process churns along, eating up time and adding a few more expenses to the project. George gives us a debriefing on his Plaza Comunitaria training, and the library begins to understand the computer networking requirements of the project. Contract negotiation to host Plaza Comunitaria begins with the Mexican government. Delivery of our classroom is scheduled for the week of November 29, so park management begins the process of clearing and grading our lot well enough to allow the structure to be put in place. Job descriptions for the on-site Project Manager and Part Time Assistant are written and reviewed, and ads are placed in the local newspaper by mid-month. Furniture orders are placed.

On November 27, armed with book recommendations from the Lyndon House Arts Center and library staff, Gail Firestone, Asst. Director of Youth Service, flies to Guadalajara through the ALA-FIL Free Pass program to attend the International Book Fair. Collection development for the Pinewoods Learning Center begins in earnest!
With Planning and Zoning permits in hand, the classroom is delivered to Pinewoods on November 30.

December 2004

Project staff from the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Lyndon House Arts Center continues to meet weekly until the holidays disrupt our pattern. Workmen employed by Satellite Shelters work to tie down the classroom, dismantle old decking from the previous location, and rebuild decks for our lot. Used kitchen cabinetry to be installed in the art room is purchased from Habitat for Humanity, plus a new counter top and sinks from Lowe's. Furniture deliveries begin. Early in the month, project staff interview three applicants for the Project Manager position. A second interview is scheduled for December 15 with our top candidate.

In the meantime, building and fire marshal inspectors go over our building with a fine tooth comb. Three of our four decks require adjustments, especially the handicapped ramp, plus other a sundry issues. More grading work is required, plus we must have a solid path for handicapped access. Phone lines are installed and initial work on a T1 line, and a great deal of interior electrical work has to accommodate computer needs. The other major issue is a fire alarm system that the previous leaser installed. All the wiring for this system had been cut at the base, but since the system was in place, it all had to be in working order. Electricians are kept busy for days!

January 2005

Grading is finished, a cement sidewalk to three decks is poured, and electricians continue to address ongoing electrical needs, plus outside security lights are installed. Miguel Vicente is hired as Project Manager and starts training on January 10, the same day that two staff members from the library and two staff members from the arts center begin Outcome Based Evaluation training hosted by IMLS in Washington, D.C. On Saturday, January 8, six members of the Friends of the Library work onsite for over four hours, picking up trash, raking, and planting shrubs and flowers to our site more attractive. What would we do without our Friends?

Building inspection infractions - lag bolts on the decks, a tardy fire alarm response - postpone our ability to pass final inspection until the end of the month, which means we still have no power. Madeline Darnell, Art Instructor, recruits a Lyndon House volunteer to work on decking problems. This volunteer adjusts and measures over 40 decking slats so we can meet building codes. Finally on January 26, we pass final inspection and the county faxes approval to the local power company to turn on our power. The next day, our Computer Operations Team begins to install computers, and we schedule another appointment with the phone company to finish the work on our T1 line.

Project staff meets twice this month, and March 3 is scheduled for our Grand Opening. Miguel Vicente begins to promote the program in the community to volunteer groups, the university community, and other organizations working on Hispanic concerns. He also advertises the Library Assistant position included in the grant and gets a number of applicants, although few are bilingual. Four applicants are selected for interviews.

February 2005

Interviews for the Library Assistant position are held on February 1, and Maria Duarte is offered the position. On Saturday, February 5, Miguel and his wife and Maria go door to door in the Pinewoods community, introducing themselves and handing out flyers about the new Learning Center and its programs. Altogether, they meet about 48 families. That evening, they attend St. Joseph's Catholic Church and speak at the Spanish mass, explaining the Pinewoods program. They reach about 600 people through this approach.

On Sunday afternoon, February 6, Miguel and his wife borrow a loud speaker from Sister Margarita and drive around the park announcing a community meeting to discuss the Pinewoods Learning Center. About 50 people attend, and volunteers come forward to help paint the kitchen cabinetry in the Learning Center, help with landscaping, and identify the best hours-of-operation for the Learning Center. They decide to open the Learning Center Monday-Thursday 3:00 - 8:00 p.m., Friday 3:00 - 5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., and Sunday 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

On February 9, library staff brings shelving units to the Learning Center from one of our branch libraries. New books arrive from the headquarters library; the facility is looking great!

On February 11, Miguel and Maria go to Lilburn for a workshop about the Bachillerato for the Plaza Comunitaria. They arrange to pick up textbooks at the Mexican Consulate on the 17th.
Earlier in the month, invitations were sent out to approximately 30 people who are good candidates for the Pinewoods Advisory panel. On the 16^th , we have our first organizational meeting at Pinewoods, and about 30 people attend, some of whom were on our invitation list and others who are interested citizens. We review our goals and objectives, receive good feedback, and the panel begins to take shape.
Miguel continues to promote the program throughout the community, going to the local Public Radio station for a live broadcast, visiting Fourth Street Elementary School, Head Start, the Athens Hispanic Concerns Group, and Catholic Social Services.

On February 21, the Center opens to the community! The children in the community are so excited and so eager to use the Center!
A health series is initiated at the Center with the help of Dr. Glenn Ames, Office of International Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia. Sunday, February 27 is the first session, and the topic is Latino Health Concerns. About 25 people attend, and their feedback is all positive. Other meetings and topics - diabetes, medical forms, vaccination records, prenatal and infant care - are scheduled for March and April.

On Monday, February 27, art classes for children begin after school. Classes are held twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays afternoons. The art instructor, Kathy Bates, brings valuable experience to the position from years Peace Corps service in Honduras.

March 2005

The Pinewoods' Grand Opening is scheduled for Thursday, March 3, from 4:00-6:00 p.m., and invitations are sent to stakeholders throughout the community. To help with the celebration, volunteers from the Pinewoods community provide Mexican dishes, and the Friends of the Library underwrites the cost of additional catered foods. Approximately 100 people attend the event, and numerous dignitaries speak, wishing project partners and participants great success in achieving our goals.. The next day, the event is featured on the front page of the Athens-Banner Herald, our local newspaper.

Use of the Learning Center increases dramatically during the month, and approximately 700 people participate in various educational programs. The Center sets up a schedule of adult literacy classes (2 registered participants) as well as primary (20 registered participants) and secondary school classes (3 interested participants) six days via Plaza Comunitaria. The Center also offers a series of computer classes (24 registered participants) to teach keyboarding and Internet skills necessary for understanding and using the online instruction of Plaza Communitaria. One session runs on Monday and Wednesday, the other session Tuesday an Thursday.

After-school tutoring in conjunction with Oasis Catolico brings approximately 35 children and tutors into the Center Monday through Friday. Many students and tutors use the Center's computer lab to practice for the Georgia Department of Education's student assessment tests. To enjoy "free time" use of computers, children are asked to read 45 minutes before using the computers. Project staff estimates that during March, children read or browsed through 1,200 books!

In order to enhance integration of the communities, the Center implements a Spanish class on Wednesday evenings which will run through June. Thus far, five native English speakers are attending the weekly class. English classes offered to native Spanish speakers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with 16 participants and 6 volunteer teachers. A guitar class is offered every Tuesday evening, and art classes for youth are offered Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, with ten to twelve children attending regularly.

The University of Georgia's Office of International Public Service and Outreach, one of our project partners, continues to provide programs in the health series initiated in February on Sunday afternoons. Attendance ranges from 25-30 participants.

Project staff is extremely pleased with the response from the community. We very much appreciate our program participants, teachers, and volunteers. We knew there was a need for this service, but we are overwhelmed by the response nonetheless. Hiring such capable, caring and energetic project staff has help insured our success.

July 2005

*July 25 at 7:00:00 PM* - Rolando Sanchez, a former lawyer and History teacher in Mexico, shared with the teens the story of Tolteca, a Nayuan city in ancient Mexico. This was to prepare the teens for a Mexican Independence Day festival in September. Total of 19 participants.

*July 26 at 6:00:00 PM* - Representatives from the Spanish-speaking Branch of the First American Bank & Trust presented information on Spanish-speaking resources for banking and finance, and how to open bank accounts. It was attended by about 24 people of the Pinewood Community.

*July 28 at 10:30:00 AM* - Laura Shedenhelm from the Biography department donated Spanish books to the Pinewoods Library.

*July 28 at 1:30:00 PM* - Paul Matthews and Brian Padilla, representatives of CLASE, met with the Pinewoods Staff to organize the tutoring program for the fall.

*July 29 at 3:00:00 PM* - Dr. G. Ames, Trisha Kalivoda, Jennifer Frum, and Lloyd Rieber discuss the organization of a computer literacy program at the Pinewoods Library.

August 2005

*August 10 at 4:30:00 PM* - Teresa Tejeda, Jose Boza, and Paul Matthews report on Pinewoods Activity, Parent/child workshops and even start partnership, family to family and Ideas for Special Events.

*August 15 at 7:00:00 PM* - Rolando Sanchez presented on Mexico's Independence.

*August 16 at 6:00:00 PM* - Ricardo Torrey of RE/MAX leads an information session for the Pinewoods community on purchasing a home.

*August 26 at 2:00:00 PM* - Meeting to discuss and brainstorm ideas to find more tutors for Pinewoods Learning Center.

*August 29 at 3:00:00 PM* - Information and orientation of the new tutors, Kristi Amatucci, Alex Azuero, Leonardo Cotlar, Davis Huffman, Brian Padilla, Martin Ruiz, Misty Sidhu, for the Pinewoods Library Learning Center.

*August 29 at 6:30:00 PM* - Poetry night; Melissa Cahnmann shared some of her poems and worked writing poem exercise.

*August 31 at 12:30:00 PM* - Margarita Tejeda, Erin Thompson, Lynn Johns met to generate ideas of how to increase parent participation in school activities. Sharing resources between schools and the Pinewoods Library was also discussed.