Friday, January 20th, 2023

TinyCat’s January Library of the Month: The Centre for Family Literacy

We’re kicking off the New Year right with an amazing literacy organization founded in 1980 and based in Alberta, Canada. Congrats to the Centre for Family Literacy! Tutor Program Lead Sharon Smith and Literacy Specialist Genevieve Litwin were kind enough to tell me all about their organization and library for this month’s feature:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Centre for Family Literacy is a nonprofit organization that works towards a healthy, literate society where all are able to contribute and succeed. Our mission is to empower people, strengthen communities, and transform lives through literacy. In partnerships with community agencies, we support thousands of adults and children each year.

We offer programs that participants can attend with their family, as well as ones they can attend on their own. Our family programs help parents and caregivers support their children’s early language and literacy development, while working on their own literacy skills. Programs just for adults include group classes and tutoring, and are designed to help adults build the basic reading, writing, math, and digital skills needed to function in today’s world.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The Adult Learners Library is an extension of the Centre for Family Literacy’s Tutor Program, and is committed to providing our volunteer tutors with the resources they need when they need them.

In this program, adults work with other adults in safe and supportive settings to develop literacy skills and strategies that will help them achieve their goals. Our programs offer meaningful and relevant activities to connect learning to real life—work, family, community—in fun and practical ways.

From one of our tutors: 

“Half-way through one of my lessons, my learner stopped me and said, ‘You are the best teacher I’ve ever had. I am so used to being rushed and yelled at when I get answers wrong, or am confused on the topics, but I feel very comfortable with you. I am so glad to have you as my teacher because you’re so nice and I actually feel like I am learning.’ I felt so proud and honoured to be trusted by my learner; it is an amazing feeling knowing they are motivated to learn as well.”

Our library supports this program by providing free physical resources for tutors and learners. Our tutors meet with their learners both in person as well as online for remote learning. Our large nonfiction section primarily features teaching materials and workbooks that focus on topics such as basic reading and writing skills, vocabulary building, math skills, and learning English as an additional language. We also have study resources for the GED exam, language exams (e.g. IELTS), and applying for Canadian Citizenship.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We love The Active Reader workbooks, published by Grass Roots Press. They provide levelled stories based on different themes, and include decoding and comprehension activities that encourage learners to become active readers. We also love high-interest, low-vocabulary fiction such as the Photostories by Grass Roots Press, and the Rapid Reads fiction collection published by Orca Book Publishers. All of these are great Canadian resources!

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

In 2020, due to the pandemic, all of our in person programs temporarily moved online. Since then, we have been able to offer hybrid programming where we offer both in person and online programming for families and adults. Many tutors and learners continue to meet primarily online using distance learning tools. This means there has been less demand for our library books. For that reason, we find promoting our library and increasing its use to be challenging!

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented or developed?

We would love to see the ability to add multiple copies to the same record. Many of our items have multiple copies and tutor-learner pairs often sign out the same book. It would be great to have that all together instead of in multiple records. 

We love the affordability of TinyCat and how user-friendly it is. We especially love the way this has made our library catalog accessible remotely!

Thanks for the feedback on copies management, I can certainly understand the struggle. We’ll be sure to announce any updates regarding such a feature!

Want to learn more about the Centre for Family Literacy? 

Visit their website at, follow them on YouTube and Instagram, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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