The Impact of Summer Reading

By Michele Farrell
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

Every year, public libraries around the country offer summer reading programs. We know from anecdotal information that participants love them, but what is the real impact of these programs? The Library of Virginia is conducting a 33-month study to understand how children and teens use reading programs.  The library will examine how the programs influence reading skills, how they may have different impacts on various participants, and the long-term impact on reading outcomes.

The study is being done to assist Virginia public libraries with understanding the impact of their programs. There will be three reports. The first report, Impact of Virginia Public Libraries’ Summer Reading Program: Library of Virginia Year 1 Report (Good, Ho, & Fryman, 2014), covered how children participated, how many books they read, the reading levels of the books read, and whether participants were reading at or above their age level. The second report will examine the effects on reading outcomes, how those outcomes compare to nonparticipants, to what extent participation shows a gain or loss in reading ability compared to nonparticipants, and how the effects differ for readers by grade, gender, economic status, and English proficiency. The Library of Virginia is hosting a webinar on the second report. See details below to listen in.

The final report is scheduled for release in December 2015 and will cover what reading skills improved, whether the impact lasts more than one year, how many children participate for more than a year and their characteristics, and lastly, how reading outcomes differ between nonparticipants and those who participated for only one summer. The reports will be available on the Library of Virginia website. Caution should be used regarding any generalization of these results holding true for all summer reading programs.

For questions regarding the study and the webinars, please contact:

Enid Costley
Children’s and Youth Services Consultant
Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

McREL has been conducting the study and we invite you to hear the findings.

The findings will be shared via webinar on May 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST and again on May 20 at 2:00 p.m. You may register to attend one of the webinars. After you complete the registration, you will be given access information.

May 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST register at:

May 20 at 2:00 p.m. EST register at:

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Early Learning, Education Support, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies | Leave a comment

Digital Infrastructure Supporting Long Term Access at the CNI 2015 Spring Meeting

By Trevor Owens
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

I was thrilled to be able to participate in this year’s spring meeting of the Coalition of Networked Information in Seattle. The event brought together a range of leaders working on digital library tools, services, and platforms. Across a range of projects, I saw the kinds of broad collaborations between libraries and other kinds of organizations to develop, deploy, and manage digital infrastructure that fit quite well with the IMLS national digital platform priority. I wanted to share a bit about some of the sessions and highlight some of the work in this area that IMLS is supporting.

Cooperative Community-Anchored Collecting & Access
In the opening keynote, Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive described some of the diversity of programs at the Internet Archive; its web archiving work and tools, as well as its work with digital and other audio music, books, and software. A theme that emerged across all these examples was the critical value that develops from libraries working and collecting together and pooling their efforts. In a world where libraries are increasingly leasing access to content, the Internet Archive has engaged projects to support libraries’ continued building of collections and enduring access, Brewster noted.

Advances in Software Preservation & Access
One of the keys to long-term access to digital information is figuring out how to run old software. Keith Webster, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University, and Euan Cochrane, Digital Preservation Manager from Yale University Libraries, presented two related projects that are providing access to legacy software through virtualization and emulation. Keith presented on work of the Olive Executable Archive (funded by a 2012 IMLS National Leadership Grant and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation). Euan described a series of use cases for accessing old software at Yale, where he is making use of the open source bwFLA Emulation as a Service platform created at the Universität Freiburg. For more on Euan’s work, see a post he wrote about some of these cases on the Library of Congress digital preservation blog.

Aggregating and Sharing Data about Research Products
In an update on the SHARE (Shared Access Research Ecosystem) project, Judy Ruttenberg of the Association of Research Libraries and Jeff Spies of the Center for Open Science announced the launch of a public beta of the SHARE Notify platform. In this beta phase, this platform brings together data from more than 30 different repositories and resources, offers an interface to research activity across these areas, and provides access to them through an API. Work on SHARE Notify is jointly funded by IMLS and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Discussion in this session focused on the potential role platforms like this could play in supporting academic librarians as curators of the full range of scholarly output of colleges and universities.

Interoperable Image Framework Applied to Digitized Manuscript Collections
In a session titled Annotated Manuscripts in the IIIF Environment: Enhancing Scholarship and Creating Communities, Stephen Nichols, Tamsyn Rose-Steel, and Sayeed Choudhury from Johns Hopkins University presented on their work to use the International Interoperable Image Framework (IIIF) to develop use cases to support scholars’ use of digitized medieval manuscript collections. The presenters shared their perspectives on the potential for the technology and their vision for how, going forward, IIIF can support new ways for communities of scholars to engage with, annotate, and interpret these manuscripts.

Building the Business Case for Linked Data In Libraries
In “BIBFLOW: A Roadmap for Library Linked Data Implementation,” MacKenzie Smith and Carl Stahmer of University of California Davis and Eric Miller of Zepheria presented on their work to prototype and implement a linked data native infrastructure for cataloging and managing records at the UC Davis library. They shared a demo of how the tools work, focusing on how the resulting work has the potential to make cataloging much more efficient. Discussion in the session focused on the range of areas of descriptive work that these increased efficiencies could enable catalogers at research libraries to engage in. The BIBFLOW project is supported by a 2013 IMLS National Leadership Grant.

Shared Collaborative Infrastructure and Services For Libraries
Through these sessions, and many others, it is clear that broad-based collaborations around increasingly open digital infrastructure are making significant strides in the library community. Institutions are coming together, identifying common needs, and working to address them together.

Posted in Collections Care/Preservation, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy) | Leave a comment

Science from the Start Kicks Off at the Sciencenter

Amy Gaulke HeadshotBy Amy Gaulke
Public and Media Relations Manager; Sciencenter

The mission of the Sciencenter is to inspire excitement for science through interactive exhibits and programs that engage, educate, and empower. With the onset of the Science from the Start program, an IMLS-funded project, the Sciencenter has been able to extend this mission by empowering parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into everyday activities for preschool children.

Through Science from the Start, the Sciencenter develops and delivers workshops that help adults engage their children ages 3-5 years in science by providing them with the support, training, and exploration-based activities that will increase their comfort and knowledge of methods to encourage their children’s STEM learning. Studies show us that two of the greatest predictors of successful children are parental involvement in education and exploratory learning where children are free to play and think creatively. Science from the Start builds on these principles through two distinct platforms that help to strengthen the bond between parent/caregiver and child through education.

Early Explorer Educator, Victoria Fiordalis, working with Head Start teachers.

Head Start teachers working with their groups on the lessons inside of the ECHOS materials bins. The activity with the plate coincides with a hands-on cloud experiment as a precursor to get kids excited about experiments with water.

The first grant-funded Science from the Start platform consists of Professional Development workshops. The Sciencenter invites and works alongside of Tompkins Community Action Head Start/Early Head Start and the Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center teachers at monthly seminars. At each workshop, Sciencenter educators discuss current research in early childhood cognition and introduce hands-on science activities from the ECHOS (Early Childhood Hands on Science) Curriculum* that educators can utilize in their own classrooms. Educators may replicate or adjust activities to meet the needs of their students while putting research-based principles to work.

The second platform is a series of on-site Family Workshops at the museum and off-site lessons at several Head Start locations. At each workshop, parents and their children are invited to work with Sciencenter educators as they share current research and instruct hands-on activities to encourage science behaviors in young children. This is coupled with one of the Sciencenter’s free  on-site program, Science Together, where guests at the museum participate in programming twice a week to learn science principles through stories and activities that can be applied at home.

Teachers working in a group.

Early Explorer Educator, Victoria Fiordalis, working with Head Start teachers.

By strengthening existing partnerships with local daycare centers and preschools and expanding our reach with the Sciencenter’s current audience, Science from the Start builds the Sciencenter’s capacity to meet the needs of our youngest guests by creating science literate, engaged adults who can inspire STEM learning at home, in school, and at the museum.

Since the commencement of the Science from the Start program, we have recognized several areas for improvement and modification to better meet the needs of our audience. By collecting surveys and communicating directly with program participants, we were able to determine that the Professional Development Teacher Workshops would be more successful with a monthly schedule; this small adjustment has resulted in noticeable increased accountability by the educators in attendance.

Initially, each Teacher workshop was intended to be a presentation and discussion of new materials followed by hands-on interaction for attendees to learn the process of each lessons. After listening to feedback, we revised each workshop to begin with Sciencenter educators briefly introducing various planned science activities, and then following up after each teacher has interacted with the materials to discuss what worked and what didn’t to determine best practices. This has not only resulted in a positive, team-based atmosphere, but has also allowed the Sciencenter staff to build stronger, ongoing relationships with the educators. In addition, since the Sciencenter works with teachers of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children, many of the ECHOS materials had to be adapted to better fit these learning levels.

Teachers working on water demonstrations.

Head Start teachers practice the interactive demonstrations to show how water collects and falls.

The Science from the Start Parent Workshops have also evolved since the start of the program. Originally billed as parent training, they are now offered as “family” workshops open to parents and children to work and learn side by side. Parents are able to try activities and apply lessons immediately with their children and determine what works and what does not, and receive prompt response and support from Sciencenter educators.

The evaluators we have utilized for both platforms of this program have helped us immensely to think about what feedback we need and how to analyze that feedback in a constructive and effective way so that we may promote change and growth. Recent advances in early childhood science point to the immediacy of early learning experiences. These findings are a testament to the incredible learning potential of young children and as a well-used learning resource for families with young children, the Sciencenter is thrilled to enhance science education in our community by providing parents, caregivers, and educators with new opportunities to connect their children with science in the formative years.

*ECHOS (Early Childhood Hands on Science) Curriculum was created in Miami through the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science and was researched and evaluated by Miami-Dade County Head Start classrooms.

Amy Gaulke is the Public and Media Relations Manager at the Sciencenter. The Sciencenter inspires excitement for science through 250+ interactive exhibits and programs that engage, educate, and empower.

Posted in Early Learning, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational, Museums for America, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) | Leave a comment