ABC’s of Sustainable Partnerships: Affiliations Build Communities

Editor’s Note: In case you missed it, this week we’re featuring blog posts on ALA Annual Conference programs. This entry focuses “ABC’s of Sustainable Partnerships: Affiliations Build Communities,” where a variety of successful outreach models, including the award-winning PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program, were showcased.

Libraries that seek to instruct a family as a whole can face an overwhelming and challenging task, especially in the case of literacy education. Literacy programs take many forms, but finding a program that caters to kids and parents alike is difficult. The session “ABC’s of Sustainable Partnerships: Affiliations Build Communities” discussed how libraries can develop partnership programs that can serve as a direct way to connect the user with crucial information, critical to literacy success. Highlighted was the program “PRIME TIME Family Reading Time,” an award-winning literacy program that reaches both children and adults.

Partnerships between libraries and state humanities councils can buoy literacy programs within the public library. This support doesn’t only apply to budgetary support, but also to the implementation and quality of the program. By partnering with an established, successful program, the library is able to craft the model program to fit the needs of their community without having to build a program from the ground up. Putting these programs into practice with the fiscal and physical scaffolding partnerships can provide, the library is then able to put forward effort to build stronger, more literate and engaged communities.

“PRIME TIME Family Reading Time,” is a highly successful literacy program that follows a unique and appealing format that proves itself through measurement gains in student achievement. Instead of merely teaching attendees reading basics, “PRIME TIME” seeks to get the reader to understand the context and undertone of the story. One of their aims is to get the reader to place themselves within the story and to think about what they would be facing if the same circumstances were applied to them. The program aspires to engage the entire family, while modeling good parenting skills, incorporating humanities with book themes, and spurring discussions between parent and child. Furthermore, the program targets an audience that is not necessarily reached by other initiatives.

“PRIME TIME” has shown its effectiveness as evidenced in their one-year longitudinal study. In a specific library in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, third-grade students who participated in the program scored higher in forty-two areas than their peers. (This includes those students who are not considered at-risk. Achievement in testing for these students continued through high school.

An added benefit of the “PRIME TIME” program is that is serves to dispel the mystique of the public library for those non-reading families it is attempting to reach. Some at-risk children may see the library as untouchable, intimidating, or inaccessible. Bringing in a program such as “PRIME TIME” serves to pull back the curtain from the library and allows the new patron to see that the library is welcoming and at their disposal. Doing so thereby invites an entire segment of the community otherwise unreached into the doors of the library, not only allowing them to access and utilize library resources, but also serving to encourage repeat visits.

Find out more about “PRIME TIME Family Reading Time.”