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Access to Early & Family Literature Research – an Equity Issue?

At our last Early and Family Literacy Committee (EFL) meeting, we started our meeting off looking over our charge:

*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 core early literacy skills and practices 

*collaborate and advise ALSC committees and workgroups on early literacy issues and projects

We discussed progress on our first-ever webinar (still in the planning phases – more to come 😊) and talked about new sources to follow (I’d just listened to an episode of the podcast Best of Both Worlds that featured Dr. Lakeisha Johnson at the Florida Center for Reading Research, who focuses on language and literacy development in underserved populations – I’ll definitely be tracking her work!).

As we wrapped up, we discussed how difficult it is to access early literacy research without coming up against a pay wall. When able, some EFL members try to visit local university libraries to download copies of articles in the university databases. Not everyone has access to a world-class university though, which is a barrier to library staff and families.

Of course, this venting session didn’t stop there – it led to brainstorming potential solutions – perhaps a partnership with Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) or even just seeking out a member from ACRL to join the EFL Committee. One member mentioned, a platform for sharing academic research. Another suggested contacting authors & researchers directly to see if they are able to share their research.

We also talked about what our committee can do now to expand access to current research. If you discover a recent article about early and family literacy that EFL hasn’t shared in our Toolkit, please let us know. And if you want a copy of an article EFL has annotated in the Toolkit but you aren’t able to find a copy online, contact us at since we may have a copy we can send you.

Hopefully, these strategies will be useful as we move forward to get ALSC members access to the research needed to successfully serve children and families – but we’d also love to hear your ideas.

Today’s blog post was written by Kristin Piepho, Library Manager at the Mountlake Terrace Library (Sno-Isle Libraries) in Washington State, on behalf of the ALSC Early and Family Literacy Committee. She can be reached at

This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group, V. Outreach and Advocacy and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development

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