The American Library Association (ALA) urged the Department of Education in a letter (pdf) Wednesday to include public libraries as early learning partners in the Proposed Requirements for School Improvement Grants (SIG). The Association specifically asks that the Department of Education include public libraries as eligible entities and allowable partners under the new intervention model that focuses on improving early learning educational outcomes.
“The country’s 16,400 public libraries are prepared to support early childhood education, but we can only do so if policies allow for better collaboration, coordination, and real partnerships between libraries and the various federal early learning programs, including SIG grants,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, in a statement.
“Public libraries in communities across the country work tirelessly to support children and families by helping children develop early literacy and early learning skills,” said Andrew Medlar, vice president and president-elect of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). “Our libraries are a foundation of our communities and are ready and willing to help children succeed.”
By offering reading materials, story times and summer reading programs, public libraries across the nation are supporting and complementing early learning efforts. According to a 2010 national survey of public libraries conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), public libraries offered 3.75 million programs to the public in 2010. The survey found that 2.31 million of those programs are designed for children aged 11 and younger. Another report found that the circulation of children’s materials in libraries has increased by 28.3 percent in the last ten years and comprises over one-third of all materials circulated in public libraries.
The ALA Washington Office and ALSC collaborated on the letter sent to the Department of Education.