Council President George Christopher Thomas

Greetings My Fellow Citizens,

First and foremost, I would like to formally and cordially invite you to the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Retreat this Saturday at the Government Center.  Our council will be in session from 10am-5pm at the Van Nuys Public Library, and it would be great if you could stop by for all or part of our council meeting.

The true action begins at 2pm, when we will hear from Van Nuys Library Branch Manager Kelly Tyler about the “Libraries Transforming Communities Initiative.” The Van Nuys Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library has been selected as one of 10 communities in America to participate in the program. In conjunction with this, the branch is hosting a series of community conversations to discuss our shared hopes for Van Nuys’ future. Our goal is to hear from diverse voices across the community and share what we learn with leaders and decision makers in Van Nuys.

Secondly, we are moving full steam ahead on the Immigration Summit And Workshop in October.  The population trends in Van Nuys show that our neighborhoods have increasingly become a community of Hispanics and Latinos.  They make up the majority of the population, and many of them are foreign born and are English language deficient.  We plan on increasing English language proficiency through partnerships with local non-profits and similar organizations that teach English.  We are also going to start distributing bilingual materials and assistance for both government and social services.

We aim to get more Hispanic and Latino constituents involved in the neighborhood council, while continuing to represent all of the people in Van Nuys and throughout the San Fernando Valley.

Thirdly, the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council will be partnering with LA City Councilwoman Nury Martinez to present a Health Fair.  This event will be open to the public, and will be a great opportunity to become informed and make contacts with the players in the health industry throughout the San Fernando Valley.

And finally, the VNNC will be hosting blood drive with Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian on September 5th, 2014.  We encourage everyone to come to our retreat this Saturday, our Immigration Summit in October, and to give blood on September 5th.

It is an honor to serve as your Council President, and thank you for this great opportunity to be a part of our community.

-George Christopher Thomas, Council President
Van Nuys Neighborhood Council

(Ten public libraries from across the country are participating in an intensive, team-based community engagement training program as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC).

Over 18 months, members of the LTC Public Innovators Cohort train with educators from the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and apply the training to challenges in their own communities. The project is part of a national plan to help librarians strengthen their role as core community leaders and change-agents.

Members of the cohort were chosen in a competitive, peer-reviewed application process. The selected libraries represent the range of American communities in terms of size, location, ethnic and racial diversity and socioeconomic status. They face myriad challenges, including illiteracy, unemployment, the “digital divide,” an influx of new and immigrant populations, and disparate access to services.

The cohort includes:

Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library (pop: 1,900)
Columbus (Wis.) Public Library (pop: 5,000)
Knox County (Ind.) Public Library (pop: 33,900)
Suffolk (Va.) Public Library (pop: 85,000)
Hartford (Conn.) Public Library (pop: 125,000)
Springfield (Mass.) City Library (pop:  153,000)
Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Public Library (pop: 195,000)
Spokane County (Wash.) Library District (pop: 255,000)
San Jose (Calif.) Public Library (pop: 980,000)
Los Angeles (Calif.) Public Library (pop: 3.8 million)

Through in-person training, webinars and coaching — valued at $50,000 — teams from each library will learn new community engagement techniques and apply them within their communities. Each library also receives an $8,000 cash grant.

ALA will share case studies of our cohort libraries, who serve as “turning-outward ambassadors” to the library profession. Their experiences in library-led community engagement and innovation will serve as examples and provide a learning experience for the field. —

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