Advancing Family Engagement in Libraries: A PLA Professional Development Series

Tuesday, 2/16/2021 - Tuesday, 8/10/2021
Tuesday, 9/14/2021 - Tuesday, 3/15/2022

Advancing Family Engagement in Libraries logoBased on the Public Library Association’s Family Engagement framework, this professional development series will enable public library professionals to expand and refine their current family engagement programming and strategies and plan for new programs and services. Each cohort of this series will consist of eight virtual classroom sessions, each led by experienced facilitators from the PLA Family Engagement Task Force. Participants will also engage in small-group work and facilitated discussions with their peers.

A Framework to Support Family Engagement in Children's Learning through LibrariesTo make the most of each hour-long virtual classroom session, participants will be asked to complete work outside of virtual sessions. This includes reading supplemental materials in advance of sessions like portions of PLA’s Ideabook and working on a final project. Each participating library, not registrant, will be required to submit a final project. This project can be either a written proposal or virtual presentation. This work will help participants assess their current programming and services and make plans for future activity. Each participating library will also be required to submit a final project. This work should amount to no more than two hours per week outside of class time.

Participants who attend all sessions and submit a final project will receive a certificate of completion for the series, amounting to 8.5 contact hours.

Schedule of Virtual Classroom Sessions

All sessions will begin at 1:00 PM Central and last for one hour, except for the first session which will last for 90 minutes.

Session Title Cohort 2 Dates Cohort 3 Dates Description

What is Family Engagement?

The Case for Family Engagement in Libraries 

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

We will set the stage for the entire virtual classroom series by defining the terms “family engagement” and “family literacy.” The session will also explain why libraries are the ideal setting for family engagement programs, activities, and initiatives. The history and development of the PLA family engagement framework and the 5 “Rs” will be reviewed.

Using the PLA Family Engagement Framework

Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

The second session in the virtual classroom series will continue to introduce participants to PLA’s Family Engagement Framework. Facilitators will present their own family engagement programs and services and tie them to elements of the Family Engagement framework.

Reach Out

Raise Up

Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

In the third virtual classroom session in the series, participants will discuss ways in which libraries reach out to families—especially new families and those with special needs—to engage them as participants and planners in the programs, collections, and services that are vital in a knowledge economy.

Reinforcing Family Actions to Support Learning: The Early Years and School-Age Children

Tuesday, Apr. 13, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021

At the end of this session, the fourth in the series, participants will be able to design effective and compelling programming to engage young/school-age children and their families: programs that guide and model the actions families can take in the library, home, or any setting. Participants will learn the importance of family engagement in early childhood development, and how to design strategies to engage caretakers in early literacy efforts and achieving developmental milestones.

Reinforcing Family Actions to Support Learning: Lifelong Learning


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

In the fifth series installment, participants will learn how family engagement is not just about children, it's about supporting their caregivers to be successful and form social networks. Lifelong learning, support for career and skill development, and other concepts will be presented along with strategies for getting caretakers to interact with and support each other.

Reimagining Partnerships &

Support Services

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021

This session will help participants identify new partnerships and engage with current partners in new ways. Strategies to spread your library vision for family engagement and its programming will also be addressed.

Leadership &

Promoting Your Vision 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022

Participants and facilitators will discuss the need for a leadership commitment to family engagement and leadership's role in funding, strategy and system-wide professional development, and support services.

Wrap Up & Assessment Session

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday, Jan. 25 2022

Participants will learn about Project Outcome, PLA’s free performance measurement toolkit. Library practitioners from PLA’s family engagement task force will engage in a panel discussion about data and assessment for their own family engagement programs and services.

Final Project Session

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022

Participants will have the opportunity to present their final project ideas to a group of their peers and other library practitioners from PLA’s Family Engagement Task Force.


Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this series, participants will be able to:

  • Describe and explain twelve PLA family engagement framework topics and how they guide libraries in supporting children's learning and development;
  • Assess their library’s current family engagement programs and develop effective strategies for future endeavors; and
  • Gain resources and techniques to create new family engagement programs or expand existing programs to foster shared responsibility for children’s learning among families, educators, and communities.

Who Should Attend

This virtual classroom series is intended for all public library staff who are interested in developing, expanding, or refining their family engagement programs and strategies. The series works best with library teams with limited or intermediate knowledge of family engagement.


Ashley Brown
Engagement & Outreach Librarian
Auburn (AL) Public Library

Amber Creger
Youth Department Director
Schaumburg (IL) Township District Library

Jo Giudice
Dallas Public Library

Sarah McNeil
Senior Librarian
Denver Public Library

Marie Pyko
Public Services Director
Topeka & Shawnee (KS) County Public Library

Emily Sedgwick
Project Manager
National Center for Families Learning



Group – PLA Personal Member* $550.00
Group – Other* $650.00
Individual – PLA Personal Member $350.00
Individual – Other $425.00


*For purposes of group registration for PLA virtual classroom series: PLA defines a group as up to two staff from a single library system logging in individually from multiple locations or two staff logging in together from one location to participate in the live virtual classroom sessions. No more than three group registrations (six total staff) may be completed for any one library system. 

The registration fee includes access to the archived recording of the virtrual classroom sessions for one year after the final assessment session. If you register for the live virtual classroom series as an individual, then your access to the archived recording is for you alone. If you wish to share the archived recording with multiple people—viewing either on an individual basis or gathered together at one access point—then you must register for the live series at the group rate. Neither individual nor group registration includes permission to rebroadcast or redistribute the virtual classroom sessions. Thank you for your cooperation.

How to Register

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. Watch for an announcement about the next cohort in early 2022.


If you have a physical or communication need that may affect your participation in this virtual classroom series, please contact Project Manager Symone Villasenor at 312-280-5018 or at least two weeks prior to the first session in the series. Without prior notification of need, we cannot attempt to provide appropriate accommodations.

Personal Data Notification

As a series registrant, you will receive follow-up correspondence from PLA specifically related to this series (including, but not limited to, instructions for accessing the live virtual sessions) as well as information about other PLA programs and resources. You may also receive relevant messages from our series partner or sponsor (if any). PLA will not sell this series’ registration list to any other outside parties. If a series sponsor chooses to communicate with you by e-mail, they are obligated to provide you with an opportunity to opt-out from future e-mails in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

The ALA (American Library Association and its units) and the ALA-APA (Allied Professional Association) (collectively “ALA”) use the personal data you provide to the ALA to process membership, inform you of products, services, conferences, education opportunities, events and for other purposes which are within the Association’s mission. To accomplish these actions, ALA contracts with third-parties who gather and process personal data to complete interactions such as online purchases, conference registration, and fulfillment. The personal data as provided is processed and stored as a legitimate Interest to the ALA in order to fulfill your requests for information and services from ALA.

For more information, review ALA’S PRIVACY POLICY at

Tech Requirements

The virtual classroom sessions will be presented using the Zoom platform. Please review Zoom technical requirements and support information and test your connection.

Once you've joined a session, there are two ways to connect your audio: via computer (VoIP) or via telephone. To use computer audio, a microphone—such as a headset with a microphone, or a USB or inline microphone—is required. Although a built-in computer or laptop microphone can be used, it is not preferred. If you do not have the required microphone, then on-screen prompts will instruct you how to call in using a telephone (your carrier's charges may apply). Always join the meeting from your computer first, then follow the on-screen prompts to connect your audio using a telephone.

Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award credit hours, or CEUs, but will provide a boilerplate certificate of completion for this series, which registrants—individuals and groups—can personalize as needed.


For questions, please contact Mary Hirsh at 312-280-5039 or