Serving the literacy and educational needs of the Latino immigrant population in Athens, GA.
Pinewoods Library and Learning Center is a branch of Athens Regional Library System. Housed in a double-wide trailer in a residential mobile home park, the branch serves a neighborhood of 1000 people, mostly from Mexico. Latino immigrants from outside the neighborhood also make use of services. Most of the adults who come to the library have little or no education, and the vast majority of them are parents of young children.
Staff is fully bilingual and comprised of one full-time employee and one-part time assistant. The library partners with several institutions, such as the nearby University of Georgia, to offer programs like after-school tutoring, ESL, GED, literacy in Spanish, children’s story times, and cultural celebrations.
The branch location serves to weave it into the fabric of this community. New steps needed painting, so area preteens lent a hand. A cob oven proposed for the community garden prompted José to offer bread baking classes. Residents not only benefit, but are compelled to offer up their own contributions, creating a true partnership.
In 2009, the Pinewoods Library and Learning Center was named one of three top small libraries in the nation by Library Journal, a professional publication for public librarians. Since that time, its success has only multiplied. Annual door count has risen from 13,889 during the library’s first full year of operation in 2005 to over 34,000 during fiscal year 2014.
The LEAP grant will enable the library to relocate to a triple-wide trailer, allowing simultaneous programming at times best suited to the population. The move will also bring the library closer to the front of the park, where it can be served by fiber optic cable, an option not available in its current location.
The library’s efforts will continue as long as the need is present. Being able to count Better World Books as one of our funding partners will help us do even more for people eager to become full participants in and contributors to the Athens-Clarke County community.