Literacy Clearinghouse

The American Library Association’s Committee on Literacy defines literacy as “the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential."

ALA assists and promotes libraries in helping children and adults develop the skills they need-the ability to read and use computers-understanding that the ability to seek and effectively utilize information resources is essential in a global information society.

This site aims to bring together resources from across the American Library Associations' offices and divisions that promote literacy across the lifespan. 

Equity of Access and Literacy

Libraries have a long tradition of providing resources and services for individuals wanting to improve their reading and writing skills.  Basic, functional literacy is an essential skill for an individual’s personal, educational, and professional growth—it is also key to their full, beneficial use of the library’s services and programs. 

Selected ALA Literacy Resources

·         Adult Literacy

·         Digital Literacy

Literacy Across the Profession

Adolescent Literacy

Created by YALSA, the Adolescent Literacy Wiki highlights principles for promoting literacy growth among adolescents, provides key statistics, and links to tools and resources for educators and funding sources.

The division offers a Social Networking Toolkit for librarians and library workers who work with teens, as well as an Advocacy Toolkit that provides practical steps, strategies, and statements for advocating for library services for teens.

For more on adolescent literacy, see YALSA’s collection of downloadable resources and YALSA Academy’s videos.

Early Childhood Literacy

Family Literacy

Information Literacy

Library Collection Development and Technical Services 

Through its Online Learning, the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) hosts a series of webinars and web courses that include digital literacy, such as on podcasts and the role that librarians can play. See the division’s YouTube channel for the complete archive of free webinars.

Literacy for English language learners

Trustees, Friends, and Foundations

For two decades, Books for Babies, an initiative of ALA’s United for Libraries, has provided parents of newborns with resources to engage in early literacy activities with their infants. The kits, available in English and Spanish, include a board book, an application for the child’s first library card, and informational brochures.

The importance of early literacy to success in life is well documented; statements and studies to that effect can be found in United for Libraries’ Power Guide for Successful Advocacy. (See page 27 in Appendix A.) More information on this subject is available at the division’s Early Literacy page.

ALA Divisions and Member Groups

·         ALA Committee on Literacy

·         Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

·         American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

·         Public Library Association (PLA)

·         Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

·         Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

·         Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS)

·         United for Libraries

Selected Literacy Policies and Statements

·         Policy 50.6.1 Literacy and State Library Agencies

·         Policy 50.5.2 Literacy and the Role of Libraries

·         2013 ALA Council Resolution Affirming ALA’s Commitment to Basic Literacy

·         21st Century Literacy

Contact and Questions

Questions?  Comments?  If you would like to share questions or comments on ALA’s resources for serving adult new and non-readers, please contact ALA’s Office for Literacy Services at 800.545.2433, ext. 4294, or olos@ala.org.