ALSC to spearhead national symposium on early learning

Contact: Linda Mays


For Immediate Release

September 26, 2002

ALSC to spearhead national symposium on early learning

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), in partnership with the Association of Children's Museums; the Families and Work Institute; and the Civil Society Institute, is pleased to announce a $110,318 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to conduct a groundbreaking conference that will explore the importance of early learning in shaping lifelong learners.

"The 21st Century Learner: The Continuum Begins with Early Learning," a two-day conference scheduled for fall 2003 in Washington, D.C., will delve into how young children learn and how this knowledge about learning can be applied in a multitude of public forums and settings.

"We are honored to have been selected for this IMLS grant, and pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with established supporters of early learning," said ALSC Executive Director Malore I. Brown. "ALSC and children's librarians have been at the forefront of fostering literacy and a love of learning in our communities, and this conference provides a wonderful forum for sharing innovations and ideas with our colleagues in museums and other service organizations."

The project builds on the 21st Century Learner Conference convened by IMLS in 2001, which sparked discussion around the needs of lifelong learners in the 21st century and how national and local partners can unite to support lifelong learning communities.

"IMLS is pleased to co-host this important symposium as part of the 21st Century Learner Initiative," said IMLS Director Robert S. Martin. "We feel that this symposium will impress upon leaders in informal education the potential for bold learning partnerships around early learning. In a knowledge-based economy, learning across the life span is becoming increasingly essential, and early learning is the crucial first step."

The goals of the project are to: 1) extend IMLS' community of discourse about challenging new opportunities for museums, libraries and other strategic partners to use their unique resources in support of lifelong learning rooted in the early years; 2) model how community-wide partnerships can take advantage of cultural resources to offer early learning programming in their own communities; 3) provide intellectual fodder and financial incentive to museums, libraries and others seeking to develop early learning collaborations at the local level; and 4) position museums and libraries as integral players in the early learning community at the national and local levels.

To promote local collaboration, participants will be encouraged to attend the symposium as part of a collaborative team and will be eligible to apply for one of three awards to support local partnerships for early learning. Along with the strategic partners, a National Advisory Committee, involving leaders in early learning and community building, will be responsible for developing content, disseminating the results and evaluating the impact of the conference.

The program will feature provocative speakers who will share their unique perspectives and research on lifelong learning in the 21st century, challenging participants to think expansively about issues facing children, families and communities. As a lasting product, the convening partners will produce and publish a white paper that will be disseminated to museums, libraries, funding agencies, strategic partners, government and the media.

ALSC, a division of the American Library Association, is interested in the improvement and extension of library services to children in all types of libraries.