October 27, 2021

IMLS Announces New Initiative to Better Equip Museum and Library Professionals to Serve Young Children and Families

From the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced a new initiative to better equip museum and library professionals to serve young children and families. Building a National Network of Museums and Libraries for School Readiness, a cooperative agreement with the Boston Children’s Museum funded through a National Leadership Grant for Museums, aims to addresses persistent gaps and opportunities in early childhood education by forming coalitions of museums and libraries.

The goal of the initiative is to ensure every child, regardless of socio-economic or linguistic background, has the skills needed to enter school prepared for success. The project builds on previous success, scaling up a 2015 National Leadership Grant for Museums that piloted the expansion of the School Readiness Program to two new states.

“At IMLS, we analyze gaps and needs in the field, looking to amplify our previous investments, leverage emerging and tested practices, and bring together different collaborators to promote cross-sector and field-wide learning,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of the Office of Museum Services. “Boston Children’s Museum offers unique capacity building training opportunities for both museum and library professionals, and we look forward to working with them to further early childhood learning in both fields.”

Boston Children’s Museum, in collaboration with the BUILD Initiative, a national effort that advances state work on behalf of young children, their families, and communities, will expand the existing project over a three-year timeline. Together with participating museums and libraries, they will maintain and improve existing networks in Massachusetts; scale pilot efforts in South Carolina and Virginia; launch new grassroots museum and library networks in Iowa, Mississippi, and New Mexico; and develop methods for network sustainability within and among the states.

“Over the past seven years, Boston Children’s Museum has collaborated with librarians, museum educators, and early childcare providers to ensure that all young children have the skills they need to fulfill their potential in school and beyond,” said Carole Charnow, President & CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum. “We are grateful for IMLS support to scale our programs to three additional states, for a total of six states, thereby assisting libraries and museums to provide critical resources for children and families in their communities.”

The Education Development Center (EDC) will serve as a third-party evaluator for the project, documenting progress and testing the model’s effectiveness in building institutional readiness to serve early learners.

IMLS has a long history of investing in early learning grants and initiatives, including past work with BUILD, as well as publications like Growing Young Minds.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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