Growing up near Fish Creek Library, Lindsay Hracs would visit the pyramidal building often. “It’s just somewhere I always gravitated to,” she says.
Through university — a bachelor’s and master’s degree in linguistics — Lindsay would travel out of her way to study at the Library. Today, Lindsay is a PhD candidate in linguistics, and Fish Creek Library continues to be an important part of her life.
It’s now where Lindsay volunteers with the Library’s Learning Advantage program, helping an adult learner. Over weekly meetups in Fish Creek Library’s breakout rooms, Lindsay and her learner work towards her learner’s goal of attending university.
These days, they’re reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and working on information processing. When the pair was matched three years ago, the learner was getting by in daily life but struggling with reading and writing.
"There’s so much stigma around not having perfect literacy skills that the acknowledgment of needing help is a huge hurdle in itself," Lindsay says.
Patricia Stephenson, Learning Advantage Program Coordinator, says people are often shocked to learn how prevalent low literacy rates are. Data from Statistics Canada shows that 17% of adults in Canada are essentially illiterate, scoring at level one or below on a system with five proficiency levels.
Through one-on-one coaching and support, volunteers with the free Learning Advantage program help others. Lindsay has seen her learner’s literacy skills — as well as her independence and confidence — blossom.
For Lindsay, the meetups have become a favourite part of her week. "When you have a personal connection with someone and you can help them meet their goals, it’s just so worth it," she says.
While Lindsay brings a deep interest in language and the mind to the volunteer role, such a background is not necessary.
"Anyone who has time and enjoys books and reading can do this, and I think they should do it," Lindsay says. "It’s awesome."
If you’d like to join the Library’s team of youth or adult volunteers, please call Volunteer Resources at 403.260.2632 or visit calgarylibrary.ca/volunteer. To become a learner in the program, please call 403.260.2729 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.