COLUMN: Never too late for literacy

Every summer at the library, about 250 children aged six and up join the Summer Reading Club.

This past summer, club members learned about aerodynamics (experimenting with a wind tunnel) and metamorphosis (‘hatching’ Painted Ladies in the library) as well as reading some fabulous stories about motion and movement.

Several years ago, we began noticing that adults were asking for their own summer reading club.

The library hosts a monthly book club during the fall and winter but as it turns out, adults were feeling a bit left out in the summer.

So it happened that the adult summer reading club was started.

Though we are well into winter, people continue to applaud adult summer reading and also request books on the summer reading list.

We are at times very focused on children’s reading levels and sometimes overlook the reading ability of adults. Summerland is a very ‘bookish’ community but for various reasons, there are many who would like to improve their literacy level.

What exactly does this mean?

Well, most of us think of literacy as simply the ability to read. It certainly is this but worldwide literacy is changing to include much more.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has been highly involved in global literacy for more than 70 years.

The organization states, “Beyond it’s conventional concept as a set of reading, writing and counting skills, literacy is now understood as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creations and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast changing world” (

Although many think of reading as a recreational pastime, there are many other implications.

Our literacy level dictates how well we get along in the world, from helping us navigate new technologies, understanding how to take that newly prescribed medication to interpreting the assembly instructions for that IKEA sofa you just bought.

For some, libraries have typically been quiet, reserved and at times, intimidating places.

Guess what? That’s all changed!

Libraries are well-used depots of information as they always were but are now also community meeting places and venues for sharing and learning – often not so quiet.

Many adults who didn’t find much spare time in their working life to read, are now retiring. We see many newly retired burst through the library doors with all the sense of anticipation of a child entering a toy shop or trying out that new computer game.

A whole new world of learning can open up for those who now have more free time. Anyone can strengthen their literacy level. It’s never too late.

Come down to the library and see what you can find. It’s not so scary any more!

The library and the book return bins will be closed from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1. We reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 2. All the best for a wonderful holiday break from the library staff and happy reading in 2019.

Sue Kline is the community librarian at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.

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