Libraries and museums are effective, but often overlooked resources in our nation’s effort to turn around a crisis in early learning, exposing children to reading and powerful learning experiences in the critical early years and keeping them learning through the summer months, according to a report issued today by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The report, Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners documents dozens of examples and 10 key ways libraries and museums are supporting young children. It provides a clear call to policymakers, schools, funders, and parents to make full use of these vital, existing community resources.
“With built infrastructure in nearly every community, we must fully leverage the capacity of libraries and museums to provide opportunities for high-quality early learning,” said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. “Museum and library professionals are adept at providing hands-on experiential learning. I urge the early childhood development community to reach out to libraries and museums and make full use of their trusted place in communities, their partnership capacity and their skills and talents.”
Read the Report
Direct to Full Text of Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners (10 pages; PDF) via the IMLS Web Site.
Commentary from Gary Price, Editor and Co-Founder, LJ’s infoDOCKET
The announcement from IMLS (above) begins with the sentence, “Libraries and museums are effective, but often overlooked resources in our nation’s effort…”
Kudos to IMLS for using the word “overlooked.” It’s absolutely the correct one to use not only as it applies to libraries and reading issues but also for just about every other area public libraries offer services in. From remotely accessible research tools to streaming music to ebooks (yes, many do use library ebook services but many have zero idea that they’re available).
Perhaps most importantly, users (and potential users) overlook the fact that they can easily reach out to a professional in person, or via phone, chat, SMS, etc. and receive assistance?
By the way, I think overlooked is also the correct term when it comes to many of the services academic, school, and special libraries provide.
Allow me to share one likely reason.
As I’ve said hundreds of times (I’m getting tired of saying it), potential users have zero chance of using of what they don’t know about. People know that the library exists and what it stands for but many do not have any idea of the many services offered (books and more) not only inside the building but also those available 24x7x365 from any web accessible computer including access to information experts.
Libraries must begin today (not tomorrow or next year) to create/enhance mindshare around what’s available. No, this is not easy especially since users are constantly being bombarded with ads, tweets, Facebook postings) about a vast array of other information products.
Here’s one way to get the ball rolling:
Start talking to people, everyone. Social media can be useful but it’s much better that talk means verbal in this case. Phone, Skype, etc. are fine.
If you work in an academic library there is no reason you can’t help support the public library where your cousins live. Meet them online and show them. Chatting with a neighbor? Ask them if they’re aware of a specific service your local library offers. You get the idea, all librarians must represent each other when it comes to creating mindshare. Don’t let the type of library you work in stop you from promoting other types of libraries and the services they offer.
Word-of-mouth marketing can be very successful if done right. Just ask Google.