To identify and promote collections, organizations, and resources to adults learning to read or learning English in the Chicago area.


LEARN was formed in 2004 when Jean Demas of Lisle Library District in the suburbs of Chicago began networking with nearby libraries. She was interested in discovering what resources were available to adults learning to read and learning to understand English. Some of the libraries had small collections of just books, while others maintained larger collections including books on cassette, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs and even computers devoted to English as a Second Language. Regardless of the size of the collection, staff members seemed to have the same goals which are listed below.

LEARN gave a presentation to librarians at the former Metropolitan Library System (MLS) called “Serving the ESL Patron 101.” It included a list of recommended resources, how to perform a reference interview on an ESL patron, a marketing checklist, and a presentation on the American Dream Starts @ your library initiative by Dale Lipschultz of the American Library Association.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) approached LEARN to help spread the word about creating citizenship corners in libraries. LEARN hosted two citizenship corner meetings at Indian Prairie Library.

LEARN hosted a workshop at Schaumburg Library called Serving the ESL/Literacy User funded by a RAILS Networking CE grant.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights coordinated with LEARN to offer a half-day training for librarians called Assisting Immigrant Communities from Undocumented to Citizenship.


  1. To select the most useful items for our patrons.
  2. To inform the public that we have these special collections.
  3. To effectively direct patrons to non-profit organizations when there is a need beyond the resources we have available.
  4. To share information and promote cooperation between organizations that offer ESL related services and/or collections.
  5. To develop strategies for funding opportunities to support libraries and literacy organizations networking together.