CHICAGO – As part of a key strategic initiative, the Public Library Association (PLA) has released a free promotional toolkit designed to help libraries raise awareness of family engagement through libraries. This new resource can be used to supplement libraries’ marketing, fundraising, community relations and political advocacy work.

The term “family engagement” describes a shared responsibility among families, educators and communities to support children’s learning and development. Building upon the early-childhood literacy success of Every Child Ready to Read@ your library® (ECRR), PLA established a Family Engagement Initiative in 2015 to help libraries serve families of all types with children of all ages.

Public libraries are critical to family engagement, given their ability to develop strong and lasting relationships with families, engage all members of the family no matter their ages or interests, and offer access to afterschool, weekend and summer programming, particularly in communities lacking many resources.

“Family engagement is all about nurturing the knowledge, attitudes, values, and behaviors that enable motivated, enthusiastic, and successful learners,” explains Clara N. Bohrer, co-chair of the task force and director of the West Bloomfield Township (Michigan) Public Library. “In libraries, that means forming respectful partnerships with parents and caregivers, and providing them with information, guidance, and opportunities to be active in their children’s learning and development.”

The Family Engagement Toolkit was developed in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), as part of ALA’s Libraries Transform public awareness campaign. Best known for its signature “Because” statements, Libraries Transform was created to help libraries of all kinds communicate in one clear, energetic voice.

The Toolkit offers both strategy and tactics for family engagement advocates, including message points, customizable graphics, promotional ideas, and program examples from IDEABOOK: Libraries for Families, a family engagement publication released in 2017 by PLA and the Global Family Research Project. This is the second toolkit PLA has developed through the Libraries Transform campaign; a toolkit on Health Literacy was released last year.

Accessing the Toolkit
Registration on the Libraries Transform website is required to download the materials. To access the new Family Engagement Toolkit, please begin by clicking here. The link will bring you to a password-protected landing page where you must enter your existing credentials, or create a new registration, to proceed. Once the login/registration process is complete, reopen the URL to access the full toolkit.

For more information on PLA and family engagement, or to share examples of what your library is doing to engage parents in the education of children and youth, please contact Scott Allen at Libraries are also encouraged to add their program information to the Living IDEABOOK, an online repository of family engagement ideas and success stories.

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