Literacy is literally everything at VIRL, figuratively speaking

(Courtesy of News Bulletin)
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A Day Becomes a Week

Family Literacy Day is an annual celebration—founded by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and always held on January 27—that raises awareness about the importance of literacy and encourages families to engage together in reading and other literacy-related activities. At Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL), one day never felt like enough, so they’ve expanded the celebration to an entire week, starting on January 20 each year.

Literacy from North to South

From Sidney in the south to Haida Gwaii and Bella Coola in the north, VIRL’s Family Literacy Week is seven days of programs and activities that encourage library users of every age and ability to celebrate literacy and learning. And these days, literacy is about so much more than being able to read books. There’s digital literacy—such as coding and other forms of computational thinking—and the myriad other ways we have to find, comprehend, and communicate information in today’s rapidly evolving world.

Take a look at VIRL’s events calendar to see for yourself all the wonderful ways VIRL branches are inspiring and promoting literacy across our service area during Family Literacy Week, and every week in between.

From Storytimes to Tech Help sessions, Author Talks to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programs, the libraries provide opportunities to build literacy skills, foster togetherness, and create new connections.

Of course, they do this sort of thing all the time. Whether it’s Family Literacy Week or any other time throughout the year, VIRL is committed to fostering literate communities and to providing the tools that will help people prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Literacy To-Go

These days, STEAM learning is hugely popular, and VIRL is super excited to be offering brand-new STEAM-themed Tinker Totes that families will be able to take home to work on together. So far, they have five Tinker Totes for loan: Sensory Playtime, Code-a-Pillar, KEVA Planks, Handbells, and Magna-Tiles. These Totes will launch in February and will help build important skills for today and the future. They’re also really fun, which is a huge bonus.

“To me, Tinker Totes are the next generation of our hugely popular Literacy Kits and one of the first steps VIRL is taking into lending a ‘library of things’ to our customers,” explains Gabriola Island Librarian, Amy Dawley. “Experimenting, tinkering, and guessing what might happen next are key ways for families to experience STEAM and to learn together. I’m so excited to be adding Tinker Totes to our collection and can’t wait to hear what ideas are sparked!”

To check out a Tote, head to the catalogue on or after February 18 (Family Day).

The STEAM Tinker Totes are a great addition to our existing suite of take-home Literacy Kits for kids and families.

Removing Barriers to Literacy

VIRL is also proud to announce that they have removed a  significant literacy barrier to give more children access to important reading and learning resources. As of January 1, 2019, all fines on children’s materials have been eliminated, and all outstanding fines waived. By eliminating children’s fines, they are helping to ensure that library services are available to the customers who need them most. After all, children should not be faulted or punished for overdue library items—instead, they should have barriers to access removed so they can grow and learn without limitations.

As Nanaimo Librarian Ginger Warden explains, “early literacy skills are crucial to school readiness. It is important that parents and caregivers have access to materials they can use daily in the home to practice reading, singing, talking, writing, and playing with their children.”

For some families, library fines have meant the difference between being able to access library materials or not. With this initiative, VIRL is committing to giving all kids an equal opportunity to access and benefit from the wonderful literacy resources we offer. The elimination of children’s fines opens new doors of discovery for kids and families across our service area.

“Families can now check out a stack of picture books without fear of late fines,” said Warden.  

A Lifetime of Learning and Literacy

From toddlers to retirees, building and maintaining literacy skills is a lifelong pursuit. Your Vancouver Island Regional Library branches are here to help at every stage of life’s journey—after all, literacy and learning don’t come with age limits. Their job is to unlock opportunities for everyone to take advantage of.