By Deanne W. Swan and Carlos A. Manjarrez
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, IMLS
The public library is the one place that offers all children, rich or poor, equal access to information. Libraries provide resources and experiences that support children’s literacy development, such as arts and crafts, songs, drama, and story-telling. The link between public libraries and children’s literacy is exemplified by the many children’s services offered across the nation.
Unfortunately, these resources are unevenly distributed, and they are underutilized in some areas in which they are needed most. In a recent analysis of utilization of children’s services at public libraries in the top 100 metropolitan areas, IMLS found that attendance at programs and circulation of children’s materials were lowest in areas with the highest levels of child poverty and children of immigrant parents. This pattern was found most often in metros in the South and Southwest.
The full commentary is available online at MetroTrends, the Urban Institute’s report card and toolkit for researchers, students, journalists, elected officials and the public on the state of metropolitan economies: http://www.metrotrends.org/commentary/libraries-imls.cfm
To learn more about efforts to promote equity of access, especially to reach children in underserved communities, check out the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).