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Libraries are early learning partners

Photo by Lester Public Library
Photo by Lester Public Library via Flickr

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.

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Jazzy Wright

Jazzy Wright is a former press officer of the Washington Office.


  1. As a children’s librarian in a small town, not only do I provide early learning programming at our library, but I also make monthly visits to many classrooms (primarily kindergarten and younger)at our schools and learning centers. I just wanted to point out that outreach from public libraries to schools is another important partnership in this regard. Thank you.

  2. Annette: Yes, libraries need to be involved in early childhood policies! The comment period for the Dept. of Education program closed yesterday, but we’ll keep you posted on opportunities moving forward. Thanks!

  3. Kathleen Reif Kathleen Reif

    Why didn’t the letter from ALA mentioned one of its own VERY powerful publications: Every Child Ready to Read @ your library parent education toolkit. This toolkit is based on valid research and was created by Dr. Susan Neuman, a highly respected early literacy researcher who the DOE folks would know.

    VERY disappointing that we still have to grovel to be in these federal grants AFTER the fact.

  4. Thanks, Kathleen, for mention the Every Child Ready to Read campaign.

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