For immediate release | April 5, 2017

ALA, ProLiteracy introduce free online course to promote adult literacy services

CHICAGO - In the United States today, there are 36 million adults who lack adequate literacy skills. To address this urgent need, the American Library Association (ALA) and ProLiteracy have joined forces to launch a free online course to help libraries across the country address the need for adult literacy services in their communities.

A continuation of the work outlined in ALA and Proliteracy's 2013 Adult Literacy through Libraries: An Action Agenda and funded through a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) , the Adult Literacy through Libraries course consists of 10 modules to guide, challenge, and inspire libraries that are not currently offering services for adult learners to do so.

“ALA and ProLiteracy are teaming together to help literacy providers, librarians and library workers develop innovative adult literacy services.” said Dr. Julie Todaro, ALA President. “This exciting new tool underscores the role public libraries play in promoting adult literacy in their communities.”

“There is an adult literacy need that drove this project,” said Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “One in six American adults cannot read above a third-grade level. This amounts to a staggering 36 million people between the ages of 16 and 65 who struggle on a daily basis to perform basic tasks such as completing a job application, understanding a medication label, or reading a simple story to their children. Libraries, whose main mission is built on the bedrock of literacy, have an especially important role to play as a link to adult literacy instruction.”

The course is designed so that, after finishing the Introduction and Community Needs Assessment modules, library staff can choose which additional modules they wish to take based on their library’s needs. The modules include information about building and promoting a collection of print and digital materials that meets the readability needs, goals, and interests of adults with limited literacy. The course increases access to technology to better serve adults with limited literacy or English language skills, and includes recommendations on how libraries can form collaborations and strategic partnerships to support adult literacy in their communities.

The public library’s greatest human resource is the skilled librarians and library staff on the frontlines of public service. This course provides librarians with the training and knowledge to help adults with low literacy pursue their educational, work, and life goals. Adults are coming to the library in growing numbers not only to use the public computers, access print and digital resources, and search and apply for jobs, but to also improve their education. Librarians are being asked to stretch their resources, and they are responding with diligence, determination, and remarkable creativity.

To register and learn more about the Adult Literacy through Libraries course, visit ProLiteracy Education Network at

About ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy believes every adult has the right to literacy. ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, is committed to creating a world in which all adults can read. ProLiteracy has 1,000 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 52 nongovernmental organizations in 34 developing countries. For more information about ProLiteracy, please visit

About ALA

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” For more information about ALA, please visit


Kristin Lahurd

Literacy Officer

ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy & Outreach Services

(312) 280-3275