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Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Call to Action

cover for Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement
Public Libraries:  A Vital Space for Family Engagement , a report from the Public Library Association and the Harvard Family Research Project, is a call to action for libraries to learn about and reach for more effective family engagement.  Libraries, the report argues, are in an excellent position to work with families to enhance their well-being and the well-being of our youngest citizens.

Family engagement is a shared responsibility to support children's learning and development, from birth through young adulthood.   Families are the first and most important learning environment for children.  Libraries are already doing many things to "encourage and inspire families to be engaged in their children's learning," and there is more to be done!  Libraries have, as the Aspen Report states and this one reiterates, the People, the Place, and the Platform to support family engagement.  Library leadership needs to embrace the importance of these efforts, and we need to make them concerted and intentional, rather than simply a random assortment of programs.

The report asks libraries to continue to:

  • Reach out to families who might not be using the library
  • Raise up family voices and ideas in the development of services
  • Reinforce already existing relationships and practices of families
  • Relate, offering opportunities for families to develop relationships with each other
  • Reimagine what kinds of community partnerships are possible

I highly recommend taking a look at this short, readable,  and practical call to action, as well as the Ideabook that accompanies it.  The Ideabook contains suggestions and examples from around the country, including small libraries.

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