April 18, 2018

Carey Gross | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Activists

Carey Gross, Butte County Library, Oroville, CAForce of Nature

As a directionless college student, Carey Gross knew she wanted to “work toward something I could really get involved with.” Volunteering to tutor at her local library, she found her calling.

Chuck Ashton, of Redwood City Public Library, CA, calls Gross “a force of nature cutting through any obstacles between learners and their goal of literacy.” To Butte County Library (BCL) director Derek Wolfgram, she’s a positive bundle of “infectious energy” who, despite BCL’s limited resources, built one of the strongest adult and family literacy programs in California.

Starting with just a 00 grant from the state library, Gross enlisted social service agencies, local media, and service clubs to contribute to an Early Learning with Families (ELF) project that has inspired other libraries and earned a 2008 merit award from the California State Association of Counties. ELF offers a family-friendly environment filled with developmentally appropriate toys, a Babies Love Books lap-sit program, and Library Playtimes, where parents, librarians, and public health nurses, nutritionists, and others offering resources to the community share problems and solutions while playing with children.

When the California legislature threatened to eliminate libraryliteracy funding, Gross sounded the alarm, leading library advocates across the state to flood legislators’ offices with protests. The bill failed, and the California Library Association named her Member of the Year for her efforts.

Gross knows her literacy programs have led to diplomas, GEDs, and better jobs, but the small successes are even more poignant for her—the man who can now read birthday cards out loud; another who says, “It’s like all of a sudden the words on the billboards are in 3-D!” Awed by her adult learners’ commitment, Gross (known for exclamatory statements and smiley faces) says, “Wow! I’m so honored to work in support of these efforts.”


Butte County Library, Oroville, CA

POSITION Literacy Specialist

DEGREE BA, California State University, Fresno, 1989

WEB SITE Early Learning with Families (ELF), www.elflibraries.org

PASSIONATECherishes a “Reading Is Sexy” button