Foundation helps county libraries serve as community centers  – Monterey Herald

Practically 4 years in the past, Julia Foster was listening to her 6-year-old son slowly sound out phrases in his earliest efforts to discover ways to learn. As she heard her youngster changing into extra fluent, the linguist, who speaks and reads 5 languages, acknowledged the ability he was giving himself.

Proper earlier than her ears, her son’s world was opening up via studying. It was the second she knew she would settle for her new place as government director for the Basis for Monterey County Free Libraries.

“Studying is a superpower,” Foster stated. “I noticed, as soon as my son might learn, he might do every part else in life. In case you simply establish a phrase, you may’t actually get what’s being stated. However once you shift from sounding out phrases to studying them, you may comprehend the story.”

The Basis for Monterey County Free Libraries doesn’t mortgage out books. It’s the basis that upholds county libraries.

“Our job is to guarantee and speed up the mission of our county libraries,” stated Foster, “by offering them funding and program sources.”

The Basis believes within the energy of libraries to counterpoint and alter the lives of Monterey County residents, every of whom deserves equal entry to data that may open home windows to a bigger world. It’s of their mission assertion. Which suggests giving residents greater than one thing to learn. Notably throughout a pandemic.

“Individuals who assume libraries are nearly borrowing a guide are lacking out on the breadth of what libraries are,” stated Basis Board President Nancy Harray. “As we proceed to assist county libraries any manner we are able to throughout this pandemic, we notice they’re, greater than ever, a group heart.”

Starting with books

Though early accounts battle, it’s broadly held that the primary free public library on this nation opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie reportedly went on to assist construct greater than 1,700 public libraries in the USA between 1881 and 1919. California’s first public library was established in Monterey in 1849, by Colton Corridor schoolmaster, the Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Willey and his board of trustees.

Right this moment, Monterey County has 17 county libraries, together with two bookmobiles — along with metropolis libraries situated in Carmel, Pacific Grove, Monterey, and Salinas — all of that are hubs for group sources.

Throughout the current wildfires, the Basis introduced a bookmobile to the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the place many people, displaced by fireplace, had been gathered. As a result of the bookmobiles are fitted with roaming hotspots, individuals had been capable of analysis data and entry sources. Throughout the presidential election, half of the county library branches transformed guide drops into safe poll receptacles. And, all through the pandemic, 5 libraries have served as meal drop-off factors for group members in want.

“I’m actually pleased with what our libraries are doing proper now,” stated Foster. “Literacy is such an necessary focus of ours, however we’ve made a shift in perspective to fairness, addressing a wider interpretation of group want. You wouldn’t assume you can get meals on the library, however we have to feed our bodies earlier than we are able to feed brains.”

Though libraries are at the moment closed as a consequence of COVID-19, patrons can log on or name a library to request a guide or communicate with a librarian to debate a guide style, obtain recommendations, after which do a curbside pickup of books. Often known as “Sidewalk Service,” this system entails putting books on maintain, both on-line or by telephone, after which ready to obtain notification that the “maintain” is prepared. Throughout curbside pickup hours, patrons arrive on the library, the place they wait in line, 6-feet aside, whereas employees retrieves after which take a look at chosen objects. It’s best to verify protocols and hours of operation for every library, on-line.

Digital and on-line studying libraries additionally stay accessible. Members ought to verify library calendars for digital program schedules on-line.

“One thing we realized however didn’t take into consideration when COVID brought on library closures,” stated Foster, “is that people who find themselves homeless or displaced sometimes use libraries to cost digital gadgets. The place would they go now?”

The Basis began Cost Up, a program that gives 24/7 free Wi-Fi entry and protected outside charging stations, which use tenting batteries to cost gadgets comparable to college laptops and cellphones.

“Our mission has at all times been and is now, greater than ever,” stated Foster, “to maintain individuals productive, protected, wholesome, knowledgeable, and related to one another via our free on-line sources and databases.”

Again story

Julia Foster is totally not doing together with her life what she at all times imagined she would. The German native was raised in Bochum, which she calls the “Detroit of Germany,” a former mining capital that had a big vehicle plant, now an expansive public college, the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Decided to turn into an interpreter for the United Nations, Foster got here to the USA for the primary time at age 16, as a international trade pupil exterior of Houston. There, she made buddies with classmate Dyon Foster, with whom she remained in contact through the years, and ultimately married.

Though Foster started her college diploma program in Germany, the place she was “finding out Spanish from scratch,” she realized she needs to be finding out Spanish in Spain. So, she launched into an trade program at a small college in Vic, within the Pyrenees, the place she additionally discovered the native language, Catalan. Finally, she commenced from the College of Barcelona with a level in translation and interpretation, with a focus in authorized interpretation.

“Though I managed to get an internship with the United Nations in Vienna,” she stated, “I discovered I’d be eligible to turn into an interpreter for them provided that my mom tongue was one of many six languages of the UN—Arabic, Chinese language, English, French, Russian, and Spanish—not German. Irrespective of how expert I turned, I might by no means notice my dream.”

Considering she would possibly turn into an interpreter for the European Union, Foster enrolled in what’s now the Middlebury Institute of Worldwide Research at Monterey, the place she began finding out translation and interpretation.

“Whereas finding out interpretation,” she stated, “I noticed I really like making the dialog occur greater than regurgitating it in a unique language. I additionally seen I like to assist direct issues. I used to be accepted into the Worldwide Public Coverage Program with a deal with battle decision and migration research.”

One month after she commenced from MIIS together with her Grasp’s diploma, and her husband was getting ready to graduate from Monterey Culinary Faculty, Foster came upon she was anticipating their first of now two youngsters.

She went on to work for the YWCA from 2009 to 2013 after which moved on to Solar Avenue Facilities — a Salinas-based group devoted to stopping alcohol and drug habit via schooling, prevention, remedy, and restoration — to run their improvement division.

In the meantime, her husband turned the manager chef for Hahn Household Wines. Right this moment, the couple personal “Chef’s Palette Spice Rubs & Consulting,” accessible by way of Amazon and their web site (

“Whereas working for Solar Avenue Facilities, I developed a number of ardour working with individuals in dire straits,” she stated. “However I received to a degree the place I cared a lot and discovered a lot about individuals of their darkest moments, I wanted to search out one thing I used to be keen about however wouldn’t at all times really feel prone to dropping individuals. Libraries, schooling, and studying are an excellent match.”

The Basis for Monterey County Free Libraries just lately obtained a $100,000 grant from Monterey Peninsula Basis to assist countywide literacy efforts via the libraries over two years. Funds will probably be used to assist the Homework Facilities and Summer time Studying packages provided free to college students at Basis library branches. The purpose of those packages is to enhance literacy amongst youth in Monterey County by encouraging youngsters to learn and obtain help with homework, each in-person and thru their on-line tutoring service “Brainfuse.”

“Just lately,” stated Foster, “I caught my son together with his nostril in a guide, laughing. Studying empowers us. It can also convey us pleasure.”

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