Search This Blog

Friday, May 6, 2011

Package and sharing knowledge and expertise on May 12 at Harrison Hotsprings

I am presenting the Language Coffeehouse concept and case study at the Transitions and Transformations Conference in Harrison, BC on May 12th.

Library contact: Manisha Khetarpal, Manager of Library Services, Telephone: 780 361 4447
Description of Service:
Language Coffeehouse (LC), February 20, 2010, 2 to 4 p.m.
The coffeehouse was organized to celebrate UNESCOs International Mother Language Day and National Flag of Canada Day. The coffeehouse demonstrated, ‘Learning together builds an inclusive community.’  The activities offered were presentations (Norsk and Japanese culture), Tell Me More language learning database demonstration, Eritrean coffee making ceremony, 5 blends of coffee sampling, Cultural prints in Tagalog and Mandarin language learning basket, Peoplefirst Initiative, Spanish language conversation circle and interaction for all people.  The coffeehouse framework has expanded in 2011 to include visual literacy and a focus on oral communications, body language, tone, manner, and language as a form and tool to create understanding.
The partners and coffeehouse facilitators were The Alberta Library, Yellowhead Regional Library, EBSCO, Wetaskiwin Tomorrow, Catholic Social Services, City of Wetaskiwin, City Archives, Public Works, Community Learning Council, Community Literacy Network, Friends of the Library, Industry Canada’s CAP interns and the Library Board.
What were the goals, objectives and/or desired outcomes of this service?
·        To celebrate UNESCOs International Mother Language Day and languages used to communicate in our community
·        To share, exchange and learn words by a ‘Just do it’ culture and engaging in conversation circles (Oral Communications Essential Skill)
·        To showcase the advantages and benefits of the cultural diversity
·        To learn new words and build vocabulary
·        To instill in people the idea that ‘public libraries’ are the modern version of a ‘Public Square.’
·        To gather people at the public library square and participate in entertainment and learning from each other
·        To demonstrate ‘Tell Me More’ and other language learning resources available at the public library
·        To celebrate life by communicating face to face and making new friends with a common bond of learning the language
·        To position the public library as a welcoming and inclusive ‘lifelong learning’ place in our community
What were the actual results of this service?
·        More than 100 people participated in the event (Participant stayed for at least 30 minutes  i.e. 3000 minutes of time spent by our community at the library)
·        Over 12 free activities were offered and people were involved in a manner in which they enjoyed being at the library
·        85 people wrote messages in our language scrapbook
·        221 cultural prints were picked up from the language learning baskets
·        250 cups of coffee were consumed
·        50 people played with the ‘Tell Me More’ language learning database
·        25 new membership cards were issued
·        35 dictionaries were donated by the community and redistributed (dictionary exchange)
·        5650 words were written by citizens and students and dropped off in the word houses
·        Library was the hub of activity with webs of conversations and reading
·        Media coverage by Wetaskiwin Times before the event and two full pages of photo coverage after the event.
·        12 community partners and organizations worked together and weaved a tapestry of many different threads
·        Event was listed at ACE (Active Engaged Communities) website, NALD (National Adult Literacy Database) and Citizenship and Immigration websites
·        Seed for a program flagship and an interest by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) sister libraries and other public libraries in Alberta, other provinces of Canada, US and Australia.
·        EBSCO conducted a database training session for library staff prior to the event as libraries of our size are run by part time staff
·        Team building and relationship development by library staff

What makes this service excellent and/or innovative?
·        New way of using language as a medium to communicate and create understanding
·        To learn words and build the word capacity in our brain
·        To inform people to be proud of their assets and abilities to communicate in additional languages as well as their mother language
·        To generate an interest in learning languages such as Spanish, Japanese, English, Mandarin, French, Tagalog, and Norsk
·        To showcase and access materials in other languages from the public library
·        To use ‘webs of conversation’ and essential skills of ‘oral communications’ to engage our community and at the same time market the range of products and services offered by public libraries
·        Two in one approach: access and accountability
·        Use of the Manga graphic novels to learn the Japanese language
·        Coffeehouse brought forward the institution as the natural and visible ‘Welcoming Centre’ of our community; the new age ‘City Square’
·        Use of email technology to add posts to the blog and thus create a database of professional networking contacts and a platform for knowledge exchange
·        Zero cash exchange project because of a natural ‘desire to give to the library’ mindset

How does this service fit into the library’s formal plans?
The increase in traffic of people to the library helped with the following goals of our Plan of Service 2008-2012.
Goal C1: Reinvigorate adult programs
Goal C1: Develop new ways to promote programs and services
Goal B2: To promote the new materials in our collection 
Goal A2: Promoting the special needs computer
How was a community need for this service determined?
The community needs assessment was part of our Plan of Service. A service need was identified to fuse and use cultural literacy and essential skills to draw people to the public square. The coffeehouse fitted a community circle in a public square i.e. public library.

Additional information: includes media articles, blogs, community feedback and a presentation
Blogs to keep the community and working partners informed and to focus on their roles and responsibilities

Community engagement and feedback


Media Coverage
·        Library event will be good to the last drop, Wetaskiwin Times, February 15, 2010
·        Language coffeehouse helping stir Wetaskiwin cultural melting pot, Wetaskiwin Times, February 9, 2011

Community engagement initiatives

Partnerships which have resulted because of the Language Coffeehouse
Mindset shift from multicultural to intercultural.
·        April-June, 2011: Intercultural communications workshops. Alberta Employment and Immigration providing support to employers.
·        April 19, 2011: Cultural Experience presentations at Seniors homes
·        May 4th, 2011: Cultural Market Day at the school in Falun
·        May 2011: Word houses in schools to celebrate international bird migratory day with words

Language Coffeehouse is a resource for cultural literacy, adult literacy, family literacy, essential skill, engaging/interacting and participating with citizens/learners, library is the invisible school and the centre for lifelong learning, marketing, idea creation, networking, project management skills and language exchange.