Oregon State Library: Statewide Early Literacy Training with Partnersby Mary Kay Dahlgreen, Oregon State Library
The Oregon State Library has been committed to early literacy development for many years. In addition to a robust youth services consulting program that strongly encourages early literacy activities and programs in local public libraries, two State Library programs had an impact on the early literacy development of children in Oregon. The Ready to Read grant program (R2R) was established in 1993 and is administered by the Oregon State Library. It provides state funding to legally established Oregon public libraries to “establish, develop, or improve public library service to children ages 0-14, with an emphasis on preschool children.” This is not a competitive grant; any library that meets Maintenance of Support (MOS) requirements is eligible. Eighty percent of the funding decisions are based on the population of children 0-14, and 20 percent on the square miles in the library service area. The only state general funds that go to public libraries are in this grant program. In 2003-04 $597,311 in grants was awarded; the largest grant was $90,369, the smallest $52, and the average grant was $5,062.
“Oregon’s Child, Everyone’s Business” is a collaborative public engagement campaign, which was an offshoot of Rob Reiner’s national I Am Your Child campaign. It has evolved into an effort to integrate early brain development training into a variety of other trainings and to provide information about early brain development and help parents, caregivers, and public policy makers respond to that information. The most recent version of the training curriculum was completed in the summer of 2003. Contact people in agencies that provide statewide training were trained in the brain development curriculum and provided with a substantial training package that is reproducible but can’t be altered. More than fifty people attended the train-the-trainer session in May 2003 and are now providing training across the state. The State Library has shared this training and the information pieces with library staff and has helped them make the connection between early brain development and the value of libraries for their communities.
Two print pieces, Babies are Born Learning and Ready Set Off to School They Go, have been important tools for use in public libraries. The State Library provided funding to have the two parent pieces printed and distributed to local libraries to give to parents and caregivers. Babies focuses on the development of birth to five-year-olds and is available in English, Spanish and Russian. Ready Set targets parents and caregivers of five- to eight-year olds with development information and is available in English and Spanish.