DUBLIN, Ohio, July 14, 2014—The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded a National Leadership Grant to OCLC to help guide public libraries in offering programs for young children that will build critical literacy skills.
The $276,000 grant will fund an 18-month project in five states and in partnership with the Washington State Library and Thrive by Five Washington, two leaders in that state's early learning efforts. The new program will introduce a new service model to public libraries for library staff to deliver interactive programs for young children that will impact early childhood literacy.
"Too many children are starting school without the academic and social skills they need for success," said Susan H. Hildreth, IMLS Director. "Libraries and museums are effective, but often overlooked resources in our nation's effort to turn around a crisis in early learning, exposing children to reading and powerful learning experiences in the critical early years and keeping them learning through the summer months. With these awards, IMLS is taking action to create new opportunities for children, especially those in the lowest socioeconomic status who are the least likely to be able to participate in library and museum programming."
Thousands of U.S. public libraries offer programs, such as storytimes, for young children and are already attuned to early literacy best practices. Beginning in 2009, the methodology and tools used in a new model, called Project VIEWS, were identified, designed, and tested by researchers at the University of Washington iSchool, under the guidance of the late Dr. Eliza T. Dresang.
The methodology and tools were then piloted in 2012 and 2013, in 20 randomly selected libraries in collaboration with the Washington State Library and Thrive's Early Learning Public Library Partnership. The results showed that intentional focus on early literacy skills improved results for young children. The new service model, based on the rigorously researched and field-tested approach, can now be applied broadly to augment the efficacy of current library programs.
The project aims to:
- Increase awareness and adoption of a research-validated early literacy service model among public libraries.
- Empower public library staff and administrators with greater ability to articulate and support the value and impact of their early literacy services.
- Document recommendations and plan for broad-scale implementation of the service model across the nation's public libraries.
The project will leverage OCLC's extensive experience with designing and delivering transformative national-scale programs. It will be conducted in partnership with the Washington State Library and Thrive by Five Washington. Together, the partnership will manage the transition from research and validation to multi-state demonstration, and build a plan for a full-scale national rollout.
"Libraries are a key partner for early learning in every community," said OCLC Community Relations Director Chrystie Hill. "OCLC is proud to be a recipient of this generous grant from IMLS and we look forward to working with our partners to expand a service model that we know has enormous potential to make a positive impact on early childhood literacy through public libraries."
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grantmaking, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.
About Thrive by Five Washington
Thrive by Five Washington is the state's leading public-private partnership committed to ensuring that all children in Washington State have the opportunity to succeed in school and thrive in life. Supported by Thrive, the Early Learning Public Library Partnership (ELPLP) was highlighted by IMLS in the report, Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners, as a national model for the ways in which libraries and museums support young children. ELPLP's member libraries supplied the staff who participated as experimental and control librarians in Project VIEWS.
Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing library costs. More than 74,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world's largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat.org on the Web. For more information, visit the OCLC website.