Opportunity Through Literacy

“The Library gave me the power of words.”

We measure the Library’s impact in statistics: millions of questions answered, materials borrowed, downloaded or streamed. But the real transformations are individual, and some unfold over a generation.

Lupita arrived in Charlotte from Acapulco, Mexico in 1998. With limited resources, support and understanding of English, a sign in a Laundromat filled her with hope: the Library was offering a free, onsite Spanish-language storytime for kids.

Lupita and her young daughter combined storytime with laundrytime, and a life-changing relationship with the Library began.

She learned to pull a story – layered with details of meaning – from the pictures of a book until she became comfortable with the text. She borrowed picture books, audio books, and attended storytime every week. Today, Lupita reads in English, her daughter is a college student, and her three younger children are lifelong readers and mentors to others.


Longtime Outreach staff member Irania Patterson ran into Lupita again, fifteen years after their last encounter, at a bibliotherapy program offered by the Library. The program offers emotional support through collective writing. Again words, literacy and the Library’s community of readers provided Lupita the support she needed during a period of personal and economic hardship.

Lupita told Irania that long ago, a teacher advised her she must have a goal for herself in order to be a role model for her children. With tears in her eyes, Lupita explained how the Library had helped her to achieve her personal goals, to prepare her children for successful careers. “I can’t leave my children material wealth, but I will leave them knowledge from books, and a rich heart. I will leave them the power of literacy. My legacy will be words.”

“Someone commented recently that because my oldest daughter is grown, my life has come full circle. I see it differently. My life is an open circle, with possibilities wide open for my children. The Library has opened the door to a world of opportunity for me and for them.”

-Lupita, Library user


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