Gale, part of Cengage Learning, launched My Library Story, an online community on which users can tell their personal stories about how their school, public, or academic library has benefitted them, their family, or their community. Today’s libraries are more important to users than ever and assume more varied roles as centers of their communities by offering literacy and English-language courses for adults and homework help for students; providing career guidance and assistance for individuals and business research for small, local startups; offering high-tech services not available to many homes in their communities, including high-speed wireless connections, computer access and classes, and 3D printing; and delivering other services, all while acting as venues for community gatherings, lectures, and movies.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report, “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities,” “the vast majority of Americans ages 16 and older say that public libraries play an important role in their communities,” although you’d be hard-pressed to find that information on the local news. Instead, newspaper readers around the country have seen an increasing number of stories reporting about local budget cuts for libraries or about libraries struggling to remain open by reducing hours in branches or by cutting staff. Some reports question whether we need libraries at all: Isn’t everything on the internet?
Libraries are too often portrayed as struggling to keep up with changing technologies and user needs—and at risk of becoming irrelevant. The challenges are real, but so are the successes driven by libraries. Gale intends to change those headlines through its My Library Story campaign. For every story submitted that demonstrates the value and impact of today’s libraries (through Feb. 28, 2015), Gale will donate $1 to an advertising fund that will be used to promote libraries through mainstream media during the next National Library Week (April 12–18, 2015). Need some inspiration? Gale developed a short video to bring to life the benefits that libraries offer.
“If we’re going to change the headlines about libraries today, we need to tell a stronger story around what it is that libraries do and how they change lives for the better,” says Frank Menchaca, Gale’s SVP. So, do you have a story to tell? It’s time to share some good news stories and change the conversation.
Career Online High School
Gale’s motto would seem to be, “When you see a problem, create a solution.” Just as it’s trying to do in reframing the conversation around the value and impact of libraries in the mainstream press, Gale has addressed the high school dropout crisis in America and what it means for the future prospects of individuals, families, and society. Gale’s response is Career Online High School, a program designed to help adult learners earn a high school diploma, becoming career- and college-ready. Additional information about the economic impact of dropping out of high school can be found in Cengage Learning’s white paper, “Measuring the Impact of High School Completion for Adult Learners.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the dropout rate for people age 16–24 was 7% in 2012. Research shows that individuals without a high school diploma live shorter lives (by 9 years!) and are more prone to sickness than those who achieve college degrees.
Career Online High School delivers accredited education to public libraries. Gale’s customer care and training teams partner with libraries as they encourage students to join and as they enroll them in the program. Gale’s commitment to the program does not end there: “Together with the Career Online High School management team and academic coaches, Gale will work with your designated staff toward achieving positive student outcomes.”
This program “gives students the opportunity to earn an 18-credit AdvancED/SACS accredited high school diploma, a credentialed career certificate and a career portfolio including a resume and cover letter. Students receive extensive career development support and graduate with the tools they need to take the next step in their careers or post-secondary education.” Students are given up to 18 months to complete courses in English, social studies, math, science, and career electives (at three to four credits each). Certificates are awarded upon the completion of the following programs:
- Child Care & Education (CDA)
- Certified Protection Officer
- Certified Transportation Services
- Office Management
- Homeland Security
- General Career Preparation/Professional Skills
- Retail Customer Service Skills
- Food and Customer Service Skills
The New Jersey State Library website provides a wonderful example of how the program could work in your state.