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Guest Post: Use your library voice—family learning through libraries

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The following is part of a series of guest posts by leaders in the field of literacy. This guest post is by Margaret Caspe, PhD, director of research and professional learning at Global Family Research Project.

NCFL Guest Blogger Series
Tlacolulokos: For the Pride of Your Hometown, The Way of the Elders, and In Memory of the Forgotten. Photo Credit: Jeff McClane

Tlacolulokos: For the Pride of Your Hometown, The Way of the Elders, and In Memory of the Forgotten. Photo Credit: Jeff McClane

What do you think about when you look at this mural?

For a grandmother caring for her 3- and 5-year old grandchildren, it inspires a story about listening to music growing up in Mexico.

For a father and his teenage son, it sparks a funny conversation about the first time the father bought his own pair of sneakers. 

But where are these engaging family conversations taking place, you might ask?

Would you be surprised to learn they were a result of a groundbreaking project at the Los Angeles Central Library?

The mural “Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A.” was produced by and for a community to draw a multigenerational and multicultural audience to share family stories about what it means to be indigenous and migrant in Los Angeles and in Mexico in the 21st century. This is but one example of how public libraries are promoting family learning by building on the interests of their communities.

Over the past two years, my colleagues and I have been exploring the power of libraries as a space for family engagement and family learning. And what we’ve found is extraordinary. Fueled by the digital revolution, libraries are transforming from being passive repositories of information into outward-facing vibrant centers of community life where families with children of all ages can explore their interests together.

To support librarians in designing organized and cohesive family engagement systems we’ve developed Idea book: Libraries for Families in partnership with the Public Library Association—and more recently its digital online companion, the Living Ideabook. Our documentation presents a research-based framework that includes three elements for how libraries can promote family engagement in children’s learning and also support adult learning: leadership, engagement processes, and support services.

Leadership is about creating possibility for family learning and building the organizational capacity to make this happen. Engagement refers to the processes of recruiting families, reinforcing their strengths, and raising their voices to co-create services. Support services is about the collections, digital platforms, and other resources that make family learning meaningful.

We invite you—anyone working with families—to join with other librarians and family learning enthusiasts who have already begun to use the Living Ideabook as a platform to share, connect, and learn from one another.


ABOUT THIS POST

Margaret Caspe, PhDMargaret Caspe, PhD, is director of research and professional learning at Global Family Research Project. Her work focuses on connecting research, practice, and policy to promote innovative strategies in family engagement.

Learn more at: www.globalfrp.org

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