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Learning center has successful first year

CARLSBAD — After a successful first year, the Carlsbad Library Learning Center is living up to its motto: “Building skills. Changing lives. Helping Carlsbad succeed.”
Serving as the new permanent home for long-running literacy programs provided by the library, the Learning Center has seen a huge increase in attendance since opening in 2008. More than 28,000 people have stopped by since opening day and participation in some programs has tripled.
Founded in 1984 and now housed at the center, Literacy Service volunteers have helped tutor native English speakers to enhance their basic reading and writing skills. The bilingual program has provided library services such as story time in both English and Spanish to the community since 1991.
Learning Center participants — “learners” — have no set graduation date or final ending point. Instead, learners set personal goals that the tutors help them achieve, whether it be filling out a job application or reading a story to their grandkid.
“There’s no ‘done’ when it comes to learning,” Deputy Library Director Suzanne Smithson said.
Nyla Henry is a shining example of all the hard work that volunteers and learners have put in at the Library Learning Center. Henry has been an active member of the center since 2003. With help from a tutor, Henry learned to read — something she was unable to do upon graduation.
“I have taken the tools I have learned and applied them to everyday situations,” Henry said.
One hundred volunteers donate more than 1,000 hours each month, helping both English and Spanish speakers achieve their personal goals. In addition to helping learners hone their literacy skills, volunteers also help K-12 students with their after-school work in the “Homework Zone.”
“It’s an amazing group of people taking time out of their lives to help with reading, writing and math skills,” Henry said.
The Learning Center is a dream that — after careful consideration by the City Council — finally came true. The center was “not an easy decision” for the council to approve, but has proven to be a “success story” for the city, Councilman Mark Packard said.
“When you actually get to listen to the comments, when you hear things like that, it really hits home,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said.
Located at 3368 Eureka Place, the Carlsbad Library Learning Center is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Volunteer opportunities are available for the adult literacy program and Homework Zone. For more information on getting involved, contact volunteer coordinator Amy Bennett at (760) 434-2877.