Decoda Literacy Library’s greatest resource retires

Finding the right support materials and resources can be overwhelming for busy literacy practitioners, tutors and learners.

The Decoda Literacy Library has more than 5000 resources available to borrow for free – from tutor tips to videos to easy-read romance novels – and it has search and filter tools to help you find what you need. But one of the Decoda library’s greatest resources is its librarian, Tina Chau, who retires in February 2021.

Tina has been Decoda’s librarian since the organization formed in 2011, and Literacy BC’s librarian before that, helping thousands of library users over her 13-year career.

“We’re going to miss Tina’s wealth of knowledge about the literacy field,” says Margaret Sutherland, Decoda’s executive director. “And, she always has great recommendations if you’re not sure what to read next outside of work!”

“It’s always interesting. I’m always learning something new, and I love being able to help people and connect them to the resources they need,” says Tina.

But what if you’re not sure where to begin, have questions about the reading levels of a resource, or just don’t have the time to search? Tina has the answers.

She estimates at least 2000 resources are borrowed from the library each year. This past year during the pandemic, she says distance teaching strategies and online resources have been hot topics.

She loves making lists, so here is Tina’s countdown of some highlights over the past decade at Decoda:

  • 10 years at Decoda as the librarian.
  • 9 Essential Skills – the Government of Canada framework that has guided the focus and funding of adult literacy work.
  • 8 years of writing the Read All About Lit blog to highlight library resources.
  • 7 years of participating in Team Trivia, Decoda’s Literacy Month fundraiser.
  • 6 years of developing Family Literacy Week materials. “So much fun and it has allowed me to use my education in family studies and child development.”
  • 5 topic areas that the library has had special, dedicated funding for: learning disabilities, numeracy, STEAM, family literacy kits, and resources for tutors.
  • 4 Decoda conferences. “They’ve been great opportunities to meet literacy practitioners in person and put faces to names. Thanks to all for the enthusiastic reception of the library displays.”
  • 3 library moves. “This library has been in 4 different locations since I started. While these have all been in Vancouver and all within walking distance of each other, books can’t move themselves! We’ve packed up and moved the library 3 times.”
  • 2 years of contributing articles to The Westcoast Reader, a newspaper for learners.
  • 1 pandemic. “What a year 2020 was! Library circulation was suspended from mid-March until September, but the library was busy providing information about COVID regulations, distance teaching strategies and online resources for learning.”

Another highlight has been the meaningful relationships developed with her colleagues at Decoda.

“What a great team to work with! They’ve been supportive of the library and my work. Thanks to everyone who has made my years at Decoda so interesting, rewarding and fun!”

Tina has trained the new librarian, Lea Edgar, and though she has officially retired as librarian, Tina won’t be leaving Decoda completely.

We will still have access to her wealth of knowledge as she continues to write the Read All About Lit blog to highlight library materials, useful links from around the web, and fun facts. She will also continue to compile Decoda’s newsletter for literacy practitioners, This Week in the Field, and proofread The Westcoast Reader.

In her semi-retirement, Tina plans to read more (she has an enormous ‘to be read’ list including many mysteries) and explore creative outlets.

“I’m hoping to make 2021 a year of ‘making’ – knitting, spinning, stitching, trying out new recipes, and gardening. And I’m looking forward to spending more time with family – following this year’s Family Literacy Week theme – Let’s Be Active!”

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