Library literacy programs offered

Crestview Public Library adult services librarian Augusta Whittle teaches a class under the only library literacy program in the Florida Panhandle west of Panama City. (Brian Hughes)

CRESTVIEW, Fla., Dec. 8, 2020—The Crestview Public Library has created a multi-faceted literacy program — the only one in Northwest Florida west of Panama City.

“Our program is three-fold,” said adult services librarian Augusta Whittle, who developed the program. “We have literacy for learning to read or write, or to read and write better. Then we have the ESOL component. And we have a GED study prep part.”

Whittle was an English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, instructor for 20 years before coming to Crestview and is the program’s lead instructor. 

The literacy program she’s developed has three different components: Literacy, ESOL and General Equivalency Diploma, or GED.

  • Literacy: For learning to read or write, or to read and write better.
  • ESOL: To simply learn to speak English, or to learn to read and write English. Conversational partners are available. ESOL students can also study to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which “is basically the British version of the TOEFL,” said Whittle.
  • GED study prep: “Currently it’s just study prep, but we’re planning to offer a GED class where people can come in and study for the GED,” Whittle said. Students have to be age 17 or older and can’t take the exam until they are at least 18.

“This is the only library literacy program in the Florida panhandle,” library Director Jean McCarthy said. “Other libraries, three in fact, have called on Augusta to benchmark her program. I’m really proud that we are able to offer this service to our community.”

Whittle said the literacy program, which started in August, has begun attracting more people as word gets out. 

“We have a lot of interest and a lot of people inquiring,” she said. “Literacy has been the most steady so far.”

That class is primarily composed of native English speakers.

“We have some autistic people in the class and some who are actually illiterate,” Whittle said. “Wherever they are in their journey to literacy, we have a class to fit them.”

In addition to more students, Whittle said the library also welcomes more volunteers to assist with teaching and tutoring.

“We are always looking for more people who are interested in working with our program,” she said. “Volunteers don’t need certification. If they want to come in and work with any aspect of the literacy program, we will train them on what they need to do.”

The program is not yet available online, but plans call for having brief instructional videos on YouTube. 

“They will soon be able to go online for certain aspects of the classes,” Whittle said.

The classes meet in the library’s conference room, where social distancing is practiced.

“If students are comfortable sitting together with each other or they want to wear a mask, that’s fine,” she said. “But when I instruct, I have to remove my mask so they can see my mouth as I form words.”

Class schedules:
  • Literacy: Wednesdays 10:30-11:30 a.m. and Thursdays 5-6 p.m.
  • ESOL: Tuesdays 10:30-11:30 a.m. and Wednesdays 5-6 p.m.
  • GED preparatory: Mondays and Fridays, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

“If someone is interested in a class but wants a different time, they can always call the library and talk to us,” said Whittle.

For information contact Crestview Public Library adult services librarian August Whittle, 850.682.4432, awhittle@myokaloosa.com.

Brian Hughes, City of Crestview public Information Officer

One thought on “Library literacy programs offered

  1. It’s exciting to see this program come to our area. It certainly is needed. Just wondering how people unable to read can get the information expressed in the article.

    Liked by 1 person

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