Developing an RA Program for ESL Customers with Luke Gray and Pat Lancaster

Thursday April 21, 2011 2pm ET - One hour Webinar

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This session will provide knowledgeable insight into a Calgary Public Library program developed through inter-departmental co-operation to introduce ESL customers to the wealth of resources that the library offers. 


The Calgary Public Library is seeing a consistent growth in the number of ESL customers as the immigrant population in Calgary increases. A growing number of customers are looking for ESL support, have a variety of learning levels, and are interested in reading for leisure as well as practicing ESL skills. The library staff felt that many newcomers were experiencing difficulty in moving beyond the basic ESL collection to find leisure reading materials appropriate to their skill level. In an effort to build stronger connections between the larger body of library collections and our ESL customers and to encourage a life-long library habit, staff developed the 'Great Reads for ESL Learners' program. 


Developed in collaboration between the Humanities and Diversity Services Departments, staff used expertise from both departments to build a program that introduces ESL learners to the range of ESL services and collections at the library as well as Readers’ Advisory on finding great reads in other library collections. This program was initially designed for intermediate to advanced learners, but over a two year period has evolved into one which serves all levels of ESL learners. It has also led to the development of booklists such as "Easy Reads" and "Fiction Read-alongs for Adult ESL Readers" as well as suggestions for ESL programs. 


Who Should Participate: 

  • Library staff working with fiction collections
  • Library staff working with ESL learners
  • Readers’ Advisors

Key Benefits for Participants: 

This session provides information on a successful initiative to connect ESL readers to fiction and non-fiction resources. 


Michelle Arbuckle, MLIS

Education Institute

Ontario Library Association