ALA Council Supports Out of School Library Programs

Editor’s note: This press release from the American Library Association has some interesting statistics on Out of School programs. And you don’t need to be an ALA member to be an Out of School program advocate!

The Council of the American Library Association (ALA) passed a resolution encouraging ALA members to tell their legislators, as well as local and national organizations and associations, about the value to their library of Out of School library programs. It also urges library directors, trustees, school board members, and supervising government bodies to ensure that libraries, of all types, dedicate the proper funding to ensure that comprehensive Out of School library programs for all children and teens are maintained. The Council passed the resolution on June 26 at the ALA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans.

The resolution states that “public and school libraries are venues where books, online resources, programs, services and staff can improve the effectiveness of community Out of School library programs.” It also states, “Out of School opportunities with a librarian contribute to the enjoyment of reading and student success because kids that read do succeed.”

In addition, it notes that “Out of School library programs that incorporate school and/or public librarians and make available the wide resources of the library enable young people to develop digital literacy skills to improve student achievement.” Indeed, it says, 90 percent of public libraries offer programs in the evenings and on weekends for young people, with the U.S.Department of Education in 2007 showing a 30 percent increase in youth participation in library programs between 1993 and 2005, from 35.6 to 54.6 million.

Also, “The Dominican Study: Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Gap” (PDF) shows that students who participate in a public library summer reading program score higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who do not participate.

The resolution cites research connecting participation in high-quality Out of School library programs with multiple benefits for young people, including gains in standardized test scores. It also cites savings associated with such programs, with every dollar invested in Out of School programs saving taxpayers approximately $3.