- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
A customer came to the 2nd Floor Reference desk at King Library and inquired about senior computer classes. He was an absolute beginner and English was his second language. He had been told about one-on-one computer sessions at several branch libraries, and the computer classes for seniors taught in Mandarin at King Library. Unfortunately, Mandarin was not one of the languages this gentleman spoke. I informed him about the 3rd Floor volunteer Tech Mentors just waiting to assist. The customer was thankful, but unsure of what to do next. As a volunteer Tech Mentor was available until 2:00 p.m. that day, I invited him to accompany me to the 3rd Floor. As it turned out, our volunteer spoke the customer’s native language. A perfect match was made.
Volunteer Tech Mentors are available on the 3rd Floor of King Library from 12:00 - 4:00 PM Monday thru Wednesday and 12:00 – 2:00 PM Thursday and Friday.
Need computer help? Tech Mentors offer FREE computer help. They can assist with basic computer skills in Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and also provide computer assistance for those who would like to search for a job or submit an application or résumé online.
Volunteer Erik Petersen is the ESL Conversation Club Facilitator at Biblioteca Latinoamericana. Every Wednesday at 6:00 PM, he leads the ESL Conversation Club. In this blog posting, Erik answers questions about himself and his interests.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a San Jose native who's lived in the South Bay my entire life. What I've always appreciated about growing up in the Bay Area is its sheer diversity. From a young age, I'd been exposed to various Latin American and Asian cultures that exist in San Jose, including their languages like Spanish and Tagalog. This is partly what spurred my initial interest in language. I decided to take Latin classes in high school, and knew by the end of my senior year I wanted to study language science in college. As of last spring, I finished up a linguistics and German language double major at SJSU. Having studied these two complementary degrees, I feel that I can contribute what I learned about language itself to the club. Topics we discuss range from current local or national events to language and cultural comparison. An analytical approach to language and a natural curiosity have allowed me to learn just as much from attendees as I hope they learn from the club itself.
Why are you interested in volunteering?
I wanted to get involved with volunteering since I'd never done any before. I have a goal of eventually teaching English abroad. I figured this position is great way to test the waters. I have a friend with similar goals who leads an ESL conversation club at the Berryessa branch, and he recommended it to me. Helping others improve their skill in English has been rewarding, especially having been on the other side of the aisle, so to speak. I spent a year studying in Germany, and I really appreciated those who would patiently spend the time to converse with me. That sort of exchange improved my German in ways that were impossible in the classroom. Likewise, conversation club is distinct from the ESL classes at the library in that it's more informal and less about grammar or pronunciation. Seeing as I'm a facilitator, I don't consider myself a teacher in the sense of being the 'head' of the club. Rather my role is to help create an environment where attendees feel comfortable to add to discussion or introduce topics of their own. Of course I answer questions and moderate discussions, but if a positive conversation is happening I keep my interruptions to a minimum. The club is for attendees to speak up, not me!
What do you like about Biblioteca Latinoamericana?
One thing I have noticed is the amount of activities available at this location. It seems every week I come in there is something to see: children's story time, ESL classes, and even creative cultural displays. I also appreciate the very existence of a multicultural library providing bilingual services. In my experience, the employees who provide those services have all been very helpful, and I've seen a clear mutual appreciation among all the volunteers. Overall, I view Biblioteca Latinoamericana as a unique offering among public libraries in the South Bay.
On Friday, March 1 the Children's Room of the King Library had a fantastic Seussical Birthday Party!
It was a huge success because of staff and the wonderful volunteers who came out to help us. This year we had a few of our Reading to Children volunteers, Homework Club coaches plus two other groups helping out: college students from the Sigma Omicron Pi Sorority of San Jose State University and high school students from Cambrian Academy Interact Club. These wonderful volunteers gave us 2 hours of their time on a Friday afternoon and without them the program would not have been as great as it was. We had nearly 100 children and adults enjoying all the activities. The volunteers helped with the craft activity, read to children, manned the different stations and had a great time interacting and laughing with the kids. It was wonderful to see and hear. They thanked us so much for allowing them to volunteer and have such a worthwhile experience. It was a win win situation for all of us! Of course, this program was also made possible by another volunteer organization: The Friends of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. The Friends donated books which the children received as prizes and sponsored other prizes as well!
This is just one of the ways people can volunteer at the library; it does not have to be a long commitment but just one afternoon, as these volunteers did, to give back to your community and help library staff put on a fun program. We could not have done it without the help of these volunteers. Our hats are off to them!
Tax help from VITA and AARP is available again this year at several of our libraries. See our events calendar for a complete list of opportunities.
VITA offers free tax help to hard working individuals and families whose income is less than $51,000. Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese at most locations. All locations provide e-File. Volunteers are trained to prepare basic 2012 Forms 1040EZ, 1040A, 1040 with Schedule A, B, limited Schedule CEZ, C and California Income Tax Returns ONLY! You also CANNOT be filing as "Married, Filing Separate returns".
What to Bring:
VITA Library Sites:
VITA volunteers are also available at many other Santa Clara County locations. For questions, call 1-800-829-1040 or 1-800-906-9887.
Residents 60 years and older with low and moderate income can register for free assistance on their personal tax preparation. e-File is available.
AARP Library Sites
The AARP Tax Aide program is available at other locations thoughout the country. For questions, call 1-888-227-7669.
Instructor extraordinaire Jingcai Liu, began his computer classes for seniors, taught in Mandarin, in the fall of 2012. Jingcai’s energy and patience as a teacher have garnered him a full house of eager students at every session. Sign-up sheets for the class are quickly filled. Disappointed latecomers bemoan the fact that they will need to wait several weeks before a new class will begin.
Jingcai is a retired engineer who recognized the great desire of Mandarin speaking seniors in the neighborhood to learn to use technology to communicate with friends and neighbors and utilize the online resources that could support and enrich their lives. Jingcai wanted to give back to the community. Brimming with energy for a project he devised, Jingcai set us in motion and the class was formed.
Xiao Tang is an attorney, recently arrived to San José from New York. While searching VolunteerMatch, she came upon our ad for a Mandarin speaking computer class assistant. Xiao answered the call and a perfect match was made. On her first day as a volunteer, and on the first day of class, Xiao proved invaluable in her expert handling of a very difficult situation. We are so very fortunate to have her with us.
We have many tutoring programs available at the Evergreen Branch Library starting January 2013. All programs are free and are run by our very active volunteers.
Volunteer Manuel Beronilla will provide tutoring in Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Physics and Statistics for high schoolers. This program will be every Thursday (starting January 17) in Group Study Room A at 4:00 p.m. Please drop in, no registration required.
Volunteer Siri Balusu provides tutoring in Math and Science for kids in grades 3-6 every Tuesday and Wednesday starting at 5:00 p.m. in Group Study Room B. Registration is not required.
Volunteer Urvi Gupta will begin her OneInMath program at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room on Tuesday, January 15. Kids in grades K-2 will learn simple ways to add and subtract. This will help them understand math concepts quickly. Video instructions and face-to-face tutoring will be provided. This program is also offered at the Berryessa and Hillview libraries. Registration is required, so please sign up online at the OneInMath website.
Tutoring for all grade levels is also provided online through tutor.com. All you need is your valid Library card number and pin number.