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Empowering Through Literacy: My 17-Year Journey with Literacy Unlimited

Faces of Literacy Unlimited: Sue Morgan, Volunteer Tutor (17 years) and Librarian (8 years)

I volunteered as a tutor for a year in a public school because I love working with people one-on-one. When I saw the notice for Literacy Unlimited tutor training, I felt that working with adults could be very interesting. I was so impressed by the training, the people at LU, and the continuous support for tutors. Literacy Unlimited is all about the learners working on their own goals and experiencing success. Tutoring here has been one of the most rewarding things I have done.

I was asked by a former Program Director to help develop the Literacy Unlimited reading levels (4 colours indicating difficulty level). That kept me busy for a while! When the previous volunteer librarian “retired”, the director asked if I could take over.

My work as a library technician gave me experience in cataloguing (adding material to the specialized Literacy Unlimited database), suggesting purchases for the resource centre, managing loans, and finding useful material for tutors and learners in our library.

My work as a library technician gave me experience in cataloguing (adding material to the specialized Literacy Unlimited database), suggesting purchases for the resource centre, managing loans, and finding useful material for tutors and learners in our library.

The four colour-coded reading classifications developed over the years helps tutors and learners find stories at their appropriate levels. The Program Director, Stephanie Lehner, quickly responds to needs of learners by finding material already in the resource centre, or making new purchases if necessary. Witnessing learners achieve their reading goals, like finishing their first novel, fills me with pride.

It’s a pleasure working with the Literacy Unlimited staff! I help Steph with some suggestions for the collection, add new material as soon as possible, recommend removing older & less used material, and give general ideas for the library. I worked closely with Steph several years ago when the organization decided to invest in the web catalogue so that tutors could search for Literacy Unlimited material via the website. Debora Bringolf is amazing when I cry “help” for technical issues!

Moving twice has been very challenging, but the Literacy Unlimited staff has been extremely resourceful and creative!

Keeping current with different publishers and distributors, and locating material for adult literacy can be challenging. Again, the program director does a great job in this area and always appreciates my input. Checking publisher and distributor websites, going to bookstores, looking at what other library and adult literacy locations do is all important. Editor’s Note: Most learners who want to read a book prefer print – even in an online session. When an ebook has been requested – we have provided a Google Play or Apple Gift card – books can usually be bought with that. Tutors also point the learner to ebooks available through libraries and show them how to access them if needed. 

As I have been a tutor for seventeen years, it’s tough to choose one success by my learner, because there have been many! The period when he studied for the Class 1 Driver’s permit is special. It took several attempts, with lots of hard work and effort, and he passed! However, every time he does some public speaking, he touches a lot of people.

Literacy Unlimited is an amazing organization, with wonderful people dedicated to improving literacy.

Want to learn more about volunteering at Library, visit our volunteer information page.

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