The SIUE East St. Louis Learning Resource Center Gets Better with Time
The words â€œnew and improvedâ€� may seem clichÃ© and trite in some instances, but they are the most accurate way to describe the progress at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Centerâ€™s Learning Resource Center (LRC).
LRCâ€™s evolving story has become more compelling because of the advancements in recent years, according to LRC Director Rebecca Harper. She divides LRCâ€™s improvements into the following categories: updates, programming and staff.
Getting better equipment and access to quality materials for LRC patrons were high on Harperâ€™s list. â€œAbout a month after I started working here, we updated the entire computer lab with 21 brand new computers. We had 20 computers at the time, but a lot of them didnâ€™t work,â€� said Harper, who began at LRC on Dec. 4, 2017. â€œThen earlier this year, we got 13 new computers, 10 for public access and three for circulation and the staff.â€�
What also grabbed Harperâ€™s attention was the lack of reading material for children.
â€œThere was one shelf with about 30-40 childrenâ€™s books behind the counter. I got on Facebook and posted a picture of the shelf and asked for more childrenâ€™s books,â€� noted Harper, a former K-12 schoolteacher. â€œApproximately 3,000 books were donated, and we kept 2,000. We used the others for giveaways during student activities. Today, we have more than 3,500 childrenâ€™s books.â€�
LRC staff weeded approximately 6,000 items that were outdated and worn. Currently, the LRC has a total of 12,000 books and materials, with plans to include more from increased allowances in the budget allotted to the LRC from its grantor, the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).
With the increased number of materials, the Center has also seen a higher number of usage in various forms, according to Harper.
â€œThere were approximately 150 people with active library cards when I started,â€� she explained. â€œNow, we have 494 active library cards.â€�
Programming at the LRC has also seen an upsurge. â€œThis summer we incorporated (SIUE East St. Louis Centerâ€™s) Upward Bound, Project Success and Head Start, and a community church group, Delight Enrichment Camp, into our programming,â€� said Harper. â€œWe did story time, activities, programs, an ice cream social and more.â€�
â€œCarrollton Bank and Prosperity Connections held financial workshops this summer, and a financial coach continues to hold office hours each Tuesday year-round to offer free help for the staff and the public,â€� she continued.
Another popular part of LRCâ€™s offerings this summer was free computer basic instruction and resume building workshops.
â€œIâ€™m extremely pleased with the entire LRC staff,â€� said Harper. â€œWe have a phenomenal group of people.â€�
â€œI enjoy working here, because we are helping the community, staff and students broaden their horizons,â€� said LaAris Crumer, library operations associate hired in September 2018. â€œI love getting resources into peoplesâ€™ hands that will inform, educate and entertain. Weâ€™ve got one patron addicted to Amish fiction audio books.â€�
â€œAnother great thing about working in a library is that you never know what will happen from one day to the next,â€� said Jayme Abbott, library operations associate who was hired in November 2018.
â€œI like the library, because everything here is free, convenient, and itâ€™s a community library,â€� said 19-year-old Renee Wells, who began working as a page at LRC in 2018. â€œItâ€™s easy to get a library card and access our resources.â€�
The SIUE East St. Louis Learning Resource Center (LRC) is organized as a full-service public library focusing on youth and adult community outreach, programs, and collections. The library also contributes to the success of higher education opportunities and career development provided by the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus (ESLHEC). The LRC supports the diverse range of students and public patrons on the ESLHEC, and encourages them to succeed and learn new skills provided by the LRC community collection and programs.
The SIUE East St. Louis Centerâ€™s Learning Resource Center (LRC) staff has made tremendous changes in recent years. L-R: LaAris Crumer and Jayme Abbott, both library operations associates; and Rebecca Harper, LRC director. Seated is Renee Wells, LRC page.