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Community Learning Plaza

Denver Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Pilar Castro-Reino, Cluster Manager, pcastro@denverlibrary.org

Problem Statement

Maximize the library’s ability to support minority populations to achieve their goals in a flexible and family inclusive environment with a variety of resources and staff abilities.

Innovation

Further advance the concept of flexible programs to utilize library resources and partner’s expertise in the area of immigrant integration. The Denver Public Library and the Spring Institute created a series of programs as part of the Community Learning Plazas (CLP) to incorporate life skill topics in the areas of parenting, personal finance, job seeking, entrepeneurship and cross cultural communication. The Spring Institute’s expertise bridging cultures and increasing intercultural understanding contributed workshops tailored to our target audience at the Community Learning Plazas. The partnership also leveraged grant funds from each of our organizations to provide presenters from September 2010 through March 2011. Library program participants benefitted from monthly presentations in our flexible CLP environment that encourages small intergenerational groups to be active listeners and concentrate on what interests them within the topic presented. As part of the CLP format, participants can then explore more about the topic by using all resources made available whether in book form, online sources, or simply ask the CLP staff facilitators any other questions for further information and resources.

Progress

Library programming has been able to improve our presentations on these life skill topics thanks to the expertise of the Spring Institute. Participants expressed 100% satisfaction with the Spring Institute’s workshops, and also we have seen a 43% increase in repeat participants at the CLPs. We have also seen a significant increase in male participants, who are now responding to our surveys in greater number than female participants. Overall participation has increased for these programs thanks to this programming approach participants now report an 89% increase in “listening and reading to learn” as compared to 69% last fall 2010. Finally, as part of the Denver Public Library’s renovations, three branches incorporated the CLP concept in their design. At our latest renovation, the successful programming approach along with the CLP space renovations promoted a 35% increase in average attendance at our Montbello Branch Library. Finally, the best progress is the expressions of gratitude, satisfaction and successes in a number of testimonials from our participants themselves.