For many students with disabilities, college seems impossible and the opportunities offered by higher education seem closed off. For more than 30 years, the Teaching Learning Center (TLC) at Union College has been helping dispel these misconceptions and make college accessible.
Joann Herrington, associate professor of education, strives to spread literacy and happiness to disadvantaged children in the local area.
"Reading has always been a part of my life," she said, "and I want that for the kids."
In 2003, Herrington organized the Lincoln chapter of First Book, an international nonprofit organization that gives new books to low-income families. Since then over 7,000 books have been placed into the hands of kids in Lincoln thanks to efforts of First Book-Union College, whose staff fluctuates each year as interested students come and go. This year, Chris Webb, senior communication major, is helping the cause by incorporating First Book needs into his Grant Writing and Proposal class. It's efforts such as these that allow First Book-Union College to flourish.
First Book deals only in new books that are given to children to keep, so that their love for literature can grow. Over the holiday season, the chain-bookstore Borders teamed up with First-Book to raise over $1.1 million. That money was then allotted to the various chapters and advisory boards around the nation who submitted grant applications. Recently, First Book-Union College was able to provide $4,000 in Borders gift cards to three recipients in Lincoln: St. Mary's Elementary, Lincoln Public Schools' Excite Head Start and Brownell Community Learning Center. Another 176 books were given to the Foster Grandparent and RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) reading programs in Chardon, Neb. The Union College chapter, the only First Book program in Lincoln, Neb., has also been making its own partnerships with Meadowlark Press and with Union College's Associate Student Body. The proceeds from the last Bachelor Action held by ASB went towards First Book-Union College's goal.
"I'm very thrilled about how many books are in children's hands," Herrington said. "What I would really like to see, as far as First Book-Union College, is more people getting involved. If we can raise more funds that means more books can go out into the community."
To get involved, contact Joann Herrington at 402.486.2600 x2173 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ella Johnson Crandall Memorial Library at Union College will be better able to preserve documents and artifacts for future generations thanks to a gift from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal funding for America's libraries and museums. Union's library is one of the first institutions to receive the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, a set of books, DVDs and online resources. The Bookshelf addresses the philosophy and ethics of collecting, collections management and planning, emergency preparedness and culturally-specific conservation issues.
"We are pleased to announce the first group of IMLS Bookshelf recipients," said Anne-Imelda Radice, director of IMLS. "These small libraries and museums are taking up the charge to care for America's heritage." The 2,000 recipients were chosen by IMLS and the American Association for State and Local History from among the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
The IMLS Bookshelf is a crucial component of Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action (site: imls.gov), a conservation initiative launched in response to a 2005 study in which Union participated. The study documented the dire state of the nation's collections, especially those held by smaller institutions, which often lack the human and financial resources necessary to adequately care for their collections. "Without immediate action we stand to lose important collections that are at the heart of the American story," Radice said.
Union received the Bookshelf based on an application that described the library's challenges and plans to care for its collection. The Crandall Library's Heritage Room contains publications, documents and artifacts which tell the stories of the college, the College View community and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
"Preserving our collection has been a big concern for us," said Sabrina Riley, library director. "The library staff has accomplished great things working with limited resources and opportunities, but we realize we can't attain all our goals on our own. The Bookshelf is a big first step toward securing the resources and training we need. It will enable us to better organize, manage and conserve the history entrusted to us."
Union College communication students are putting textbook tactics into practice by organizing a benefit concert for Invisible Children on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will take place at the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church (South 48th St. and Prescott Ave.)
Invisible Children is a nonprofit organization established in 2003 to help the homeless and orphaned children of Uganda. More than 20 years of civil conflict in the country has created a need for educational and economic opportunities among Ugandan youth that Invisible Children hopes to address.
Ann Bryant, Union College student chaplain and junior business major, gets excited when her peers have big ideas. "I want to start a tutoring program for refugees and immigrants in Lincoln who don't speak English," said senior Katie Carlson when she came to see Bryant in Campus Ministries recently. "And I want to kick it off during Project Impact next week."
Never mind the short notice, Bryant gave the idea an enthusiastic go-ahead. "We'll do it. How can we help you make this happen?" Bryant said.
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Spreading literacy is the key reason Joann Herrington, associate professor of education, founded Union's local arm of First Book, an international nonprofit organization that gives new books to low income families. Started in 2004, First Book-Union College has distributed thousands of books to local elementary schools and community centers.
Recently, senior teacher candidates from Union's Education department, coordinated a grant proposal resulting in $500 from Verizon Youth Services. With these funds, the literacy advocates celebrated International Book Day at a local elementary school. The party highlighted Asian culture and featured games, books, food and crafts.
"This was a valuable experience for our teacher candidates," Herrington said. "The elementary kids had a ball at Union's First Book event."