Literacy Center Marks 20 Years in Elgin

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Byline: Tom O'Konowitz Daily Herald Staff Writer

Getting by in life and work is harder than ever for those who can't read and write, so Elgin's Literacy Connection remains as committed as ever in its 20-year history of helping adults learn the essential skills.

Today, a ninth-grade literacy level is considered necessary to function normally in society, as compared to the sixth-grade level that was the minimum 20 years ago, according to Karen Oswald, executive director of the Literacy Connection. And while manual labor jobs a few decades ago may not have required any reading or writing ability, most today require the ability to use computers, read work orders and fill out at least some paperwork.

"Just to get by in society, you need so much more," Oswald said. "You're not just running a machine in a plant. It's a lot more complicated than it used to be."

To deal with the changing needs of those adults who can't read in Elgin and surrounding towns, the Literacy Connection offers special tutoring in how to read things related specifically to health, computers and finances. Volunteer tutors also offer help in how to read special charts, in addition to the standard text help always offered by Literacy Connection.

Volunteers with Literacy Connection will mark the agency's 20th anniversary today with a celebration from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the first floor meeting rooms of the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin. More than 100 people are expected to attend, including Literacy Connection staff, tutors, students, board members and other supporters. …