From free one-on-one homework help to crafting job resumes, Family Learning Centers at Long Beach public libraries have something to offer everyone.
Started in 1999, the first Family Learning Center (FLC) was established at the Burnett Neighborhood Library. Since then, FLC has been established at each of the 12 Long Beach public libraries with support from the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. There will even be one located at the new main library opening later this year.
“We are excited for the opening of the new main library later this year, which will include a brand-new Family Learning Center with updated technology and materials and seating for 40 patrons,” Kate Azar, the foundation's executive director, said.
Services offered at FLCs include homework assistance and computer-based learning opportunities. Highly qualified learning and studio guides staff the centers providing students and families with free help in various academic and career areas. Other services include computer skills training, English as a second language resources, and SpecialConnect (serving families with special needs children).
There are even career help services for job seekers.
Since its establishment, the FLC program has evolved to serve the needs of the community. For example, a digital Makerspace Studio program was established in 2014.
Through grants and personal donations, studio guides provide one-on-one assistance to patrons of all ages. People learn skills such as engineering, coding, video game design, music production, robotics and graphic design through work in the studio. These technology labs are available at the Main Library, the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, and the Mobile Studio.
One of the most popular services is a summer camp partnership with Dramatic Results.
The STEM-based program invites teens to participate in engineering workshops at the libraries and the Mobile Studio in the summer. Participation is free, but space is limited. Families are encouraged to visit participating libraries to learn more.
In 2016, the FLC program added Brainfuse — an online service that can be accessed by anyone with a library card. Patrons could use Brainfuse to receive homework and job search help from home, school, or anywhere with internet access. These virtual learning centers allow patrons to work with live experts on various topics.
In 2018, a total of 22,281 FLC sessions were hosted. FLC served 10,850 patrons through the makerspace studio and mobile studio with STEM learning workshops. Other highlights include more than 1.3 million library materials checked out and 5,600 dictionaries gifted to the Long Beach Unified School District third grade students.
Azar said that the Makerspace Studios also will see enhancements at the new main library. The new Studio Learning Lab will feature software for 3D printing, graphic design, robotics, coding, virtual reality and more.
“There will also be Studio Jr. in the Children’s Library with materials for robotics and arts workshops,” she said.
Azar said the foundation is raising money for technology and programs, including those at the new main library through the New Main Campaign.
To make a donation, go to https://lbplfoundation.org/newmain/.