Developing Literacy Initiatives

Public libraries have the potential to contribute greatly to the improvement of literacy standards, working in partnership with other agencies at both national and local level. There is clear evidence that the availability of reading material, and the fostering of reading for pleasure plays a significant role in the children‘s reading performance. Based on this evidence, interventions to improve children‘s literacy must aim to improve children‘s access to reading materials.


In the words of educational researcher, Stephen Krashen:

"If more access leads to more reading, and if more reading leads to better reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and a larger vocabulary, this means that the first step any literacy campaign needs to take is to make sure children have access to plenty of books" (Krashen 2007, 8).

Krashen concludes that
"The place to focus is the library, both the school and public library. Studies show a positive relationship between library quality (school and public) and the amount read, as well as a relationship with reading competence."

The effectiveness of school library provision has been well documented. In Ireland, the evaluation of the Junior Certificate School Library Demonstration Programme found that "there is a great deal of evidence to support the hypothesis that a good school library, which caters for the needs of students with literacy difficulties impacts positively on their learning experience and allows them to address and overcome literacy difficulties" (Haslett and Curriculum Development Unit (Ireland) 2005, 126).

The continuing popularity of libraries is evidence of the contribution they make to people‘s reading lives. The high level of use by children and the enthusiastic engagement of children in library events suggests that they value the service provided and that public libraries can play an important role in developing children‘s literacy. 


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