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Meet the ALSC Early and Family Literacy Committee

Greetings from the new ALSC Early and Family Literacy Committee (EFL)! We thought it would be helpful to share with the ALSC membership the thinking that led to the formation of the newest ALSC committee. We sat down with Melissa Depper, Storytime Supervisor for the Arapahoe Libraries in Colorado, and former co-chair of the ALSC Every Child Ready to Read Oversight Committee (2016-2018), to ask about the new EFL Committee’s history and goals. 

Melissa, how did the new Early and Family Literacy Committee come to be?

ALSC and the Public Library Association (PLA) developed and introduced the popular Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) initiative as a joint project in 2004. But in 2018, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two ALA Divisions expired. For the ALSC Board, this expiration of the MOU with PLA seemed like a good time to explore how ALSC might shift from managing ECRR as a joint initiative to building on the foundations of ECRR within ALSC.

When the ALSC Board voted to conclude ECRR as an active initiative, the Board invited members of the ECRR Oversight Committee to prepare suggestions for how ALSC might move forward with a focus on early and family literacy. Marisa Conner, who at the time was the ECRR Oversight Chair, and I surveyed a number of our early literacy colleagues for thoughts and strategies and presented these suggestions to the ALSC Board during the 2018 Annual Conference.

From there, the ALSC Board created an Early and Family Literacy Working Group. The Working Group explored incorporating future work on early and family literacy into the charge of an existing ALSC committee or creating a home for that work in a new ALSC committee. The Working Group proposed that ALSC create a new Early and Family Literacy Committee and developed a charge and composition for the new EFL Committee. During the 2019 Midwinter meeting, the ALSC Board voted to accept the Working Group’s recommendations and created the new EFL Committee.

(Note: Previous ALSC discussions of this transition include an ALSC Blog post from Nina Lindsay, Past President of ALSC, “Next Steps for Early Literacy: Board Update” and an ALSC Matters Midwinter Update article.)

You can read the Early and Family Literacy Working Group report here.

Melissa, what are the goals of the new Early and Family Literacy committee?

The Working Group worked carefully to develop a charge for the new EFL committee that would avoid overlap of responsibilities with existing committees, such as the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee and the School Age Programs and Services Committee. We were hoping the new committee could build on the successes of the Every Child Ready to Read project, supporting research-based early literacy endeavors in libraries, without being tied to a single product.

You can read the full charge of the Early and Family Literacy Committee on the ALSC Committee’s webpage, but there are three main aspects of the charge to note:

  • stay on top of current research in the field of early and family literacy, and share it with the library community
  • develop trainings for library staff about research related to core early and family literacy skills and practices
  • collaborate and advise other ALSC committees and workgroups on research in the area of early and family literacy.

There’s plenty of work to do, it’s an exciting time, and we are all looking forward to what’s ahead.

Please reach out with questions, needs and ideas. We would love to hear from you! Email the committee at alscfamilyliteracy@gmail.com


Lori Romero is Co-Chair, ALSC Early and Family Literacy Committee. She supervises the Child and Family Library Services department for the Arapahoe Libraries in Colorado. 

 

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