New policy brief highlights state initiatives to promote family engagement in public libraries

For Immediate Release
Tue, 07/17/2018


Laurence Deutsch

Manager, Communications

Public Library Association (PLA)

BOSTON — State library leaders are promoting two-generation approaches to early learning and fostering environments in which children and the adults in their lives have equal opportunities to create knowledge and gain new skills together. The Global Family Research Project’s new policy brief, State Library Administrative Agencies: Leading Family Engagement in Early Learning, features such initiatives in four states—California, Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland.

The brief examines five change strategies these states use to elevate the role of families in children’s early learning. State library agencies:

  • Created a bold vision for the emergence of new ideas and practices. They set ambitious but realistic goals to ensure that families and caregivers of young children—especially those not often reached by libraries—gained access to the resources to support early learning. 
  • Entered into statewide partnerships. They positioned themselves to join state collaborative efforts to address relevant early learning issues, such as school readiness, closing opportunity gaps, and improving the quality of family, friend, and neighbor care.
  • Funded and empowered local library innovation. Through grants and frameworks for action, they encouraged libraries to tinker with new ideas and reinvent family engagement practices in order to meet the unique characteristics of local communities.
  • Provided professional learning opportunities. They supported training models and offered ongoing support in order to build the competencies for authentic partnerships with families.
  • Took advantage of multiple funding sources. They used federal and state funds and tapped philanthropic dollars to innovate, scale, and sustain the integration of family engagement in the early learning programs of public libraries.

“Global Family Research Project has produced a well-researched and insightful piece on state library agency successes in promoting early learning through family engagement.  Their recommendations are well thought out and provide a roadmap for further discussion,” says Timothy Cherubini, Executive Director, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies.

The policy brief intends to spark conversations about how public libraries can improve their reach and services among families. It asks state library leaders to consider questions such as how they can better positon themselves in statewide early learning initiatives and how the successes and failures in working with families can be used to improve and innovate the next level of family engagement.

Clara Bohrer, co-chair of the Public Library Association’s Family Engagement Task Force comments, “As the Public Library Association and partners like Global Family Research Project and others spread family engagement strategies, we greatly appreciate the work of state library agencies to promote them, train staff on them, and fund their implementation.”

For more information, contact

The Global Family Research Project supports all families and communities in helping children find success in and out of school. We apply research to promote strategies that build pathways for children's whole development across all learning environments.


About PLA
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or