Literacy summit brings lifeskills to the table

Posted 9/9/08

Rhonda Moore As members of the Douglas County Library’s fledgling literacy department prepare for the inaugural literacy summit, organizers hope …

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Literacy summit brings lifeskills to the table


Rhonda Moore

As members of the Douglas County Library’s fledgling literacy department prepare for the inaugural literacy summit, organizers hope the community gets on board to bring lifelong learning to the masses.

The Douglas County Literacy Summit is touted as the first step to introduce literacy that goes beyond the ABCs and reaches into life skills and enrichment.

The Douglas County literacy department is new to the library, with an outreach that began in 2008. In its first year out of the gate, the literacy department brought county residents the GED program, English as a Second Language, Spellbinders — a storytelling opportunity in which seniors share life stories with area youth — and a book club for inmates of the Douglas County jail.

The literacy summit is an extension of the department’s efforts to reach out to residents who might not see the library as part of a community support system. Organizers envision that support system as a resource that extends far beyond the library walls.

The summit aims to establish a core group of literacy providers that will become part of a network for literacy skills within the community, said Molly Elkins, literacy specialist, Douglas County Library. Elkins and her counterpart Priscilla Queen seek those providers who share their vision that lifelong learning and overall literacy is the foundation of a stronger society.

“We’re thinking about literacy in a broader sense than just reading and writing. We’re thinking health literacy, financial literacy, technological literacy,” Elkins said. “Things that will help members of our community to become more self-sustaining. Basic tools to build success.”

For the first summit, the library invited teachers, business owners, homeless prevention representatives and others who are in contact with that part of the community with literacy needs. The summit, however, is not limited to an invitation-only list.

The literacy summit is open to the public and organizers hope others join in the effort to expand the traditional definition of literacy.

“We want to look at literacy in a broader sense. It’s really about basic skills for a fullness of life,” Elkins said. “Being able to handle technology, talk to your doctor, navigate the health system, child rearing, developing reading skills. We are encouraging families to develop a culture of reading and speaking to your kids about your daily lives so children grow up talking about finances, reading to each other and letting life skill literacy be a part of daily life.”

Much of the information prepared for the summit was gathered with the economic impact of literacy in mind, Queen said. Queen is preparing a presentation on the value of early childhood quality experiences and literacy for the workforce of the future.

“It’s important to ensure the whole community [is involved] to make sure our kids get a good education and are our top notch workers in 20 years,” Queen said. “Not to mention the adults who are learning English and can get better jobs if they are literate in speaking English.”

The Douglas Library Literacy Summit is from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Sept. 19 at the Philip S. Miller Library, 100 South Wilcox Street in Castle Rock. For more information, visit the library’s Web site at or call 303-791-READ(7323) and ask for the literacy department.


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