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Ozarks Literacy Council Shares Mission, Now Space with the Library

The Ozarks Literacy Council and the Springfield-Greene County Library District share a similar mission of improving and enriching the lives of others. Now they will share work space.

The Ozarks Literacy Council will move its South Jefferson Avenue office on Dec. 1 to the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, 397 E. Central St., through a letter of agreement with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. The Literacy Council office will be located on the lower level, which also houses the library district’s computer skills training classes, the Edge Community Technology Center.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” said Literacy Council Director Kathy Pinkley. “Ozarks Literacy Council offers free one-one-one tutoring to improve reading and writing skills, and a partnership with The Library seemed a natural fit.”

“As Ozarks Literacy Council learners increase their literacy levels, they are able to utilize the library district’s many resources, including computer classes offered by The Edge. Becoming computer literate is a natural progression for learners,” Pinkley said.

The Ozarks Literacy Council was founded in 1968 and has collaborated with the library district on several programs, most recently ReadFirst!, a program in which community partners strive to create a culture of family reading.

Approximately 6 percent of Greene County’s population is illiterate, with an additional 28 percent only possessing skills necessary to perform simple and everyday literacy activities, Pinkley explained. In 2011, some 51 adults and 23 children were served through the one-on-one tutoring program. The “learners” ranged in age from 8 to 80.

People come to Ozarks Literacy Council for a variety of reasons, Pinkley said. Children fall behind their grade level in reading and need help catching up, while adults may have such low literacy levels they are unable to read a bedtime story to their children, she added. Ozarks Literacy Council strives to meet the learner’s specific goals.

Library Executive Director Regina Cooper said the one-stop-shop design makes sense for patrons and for two organizations with a shared mission.

“The library district felt that Ozarks Literacy Council was providing valuable services to the community and wanted to help,” Cooper added. “Both organizations’ goals are clearly aligned. Providing office space was the right thing to do.”

Like many other nonprofits, Ozarks Literacy Council has been faced with financial challenges due to the downturn in the economy, Pinkley explained. “Lack of funding has made it difficult to retain full-time staff and continue programs at the level at which they have been offered in the past.”

The Library is providing access to unused office space at the Midtown Carnegie Branch at no cost. The Ozarks Literacy Council is a United Way agency and receives an annual allocation. Additional funding comes from grants, donations, and fundraisers. The council’s two largest events are Pizza Bowl and Trivia Night.

With the move, the Ozarks Literacy Council will continue to provide the same services as in the past, including one-on-one tutoring, child and family literacy programs, and reading advocacy, Pinkley said. While tutors are encouraged to meet at area libraries, several meet at the current office and will continue to meet at the new location.

Training to become a one-on-one tutor is provided, with training sessions held three to four times a year. Volunteer opportunities are also available for the children’s literacy programs.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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