Holly Storck-Post, a Youth Services librarian from Madison Public Library recently visited clinicians and staff at UW Health’s 20 South Park Street location. Holly shared information with clinic staff about library programming and ways librarians engage families around early literacy.
Madison Public Library gives families information that is very similar to what Reach Out and Read (ROR) providers give at well-child visits. The librarians share ways to build early literacy skills by telling parents to talk, sing, read, write and play with their kids. They provide encouragement to parents and offer practical advice. Through their free high-quality programming, librarians model reading aloud for parents and show how to engage children of all ages with books.
Hearing this messaging in two different environments is important for parents. Not only are parents hearing from their child’s medical providers that early literacy is crucial to brain development, but they also learn this during activities at the library. When two organizations in different sectors are promoting early literacy, it makes sense to develop a collaboration.
Benefits of library collaboration
ROR Wisconsin encourages clinics to collaborate with their local libraries. These partnerships have benefits for both the clinic and the library. Clinics can benefit from library staff by:
- Helping to create literacy-rich environments throughout the clinic
- Coordinating reading times in the waiting room with volunteer readers
- Collecting gently-used book donations for the clinic
- Acting as partners on grant applications
- Suggesting new book titles or helping with book selection
However, clinics are not the only ones who benefit from this collaboration. Libraries benefit from partnering with medical providers who:
- Encouraging families to visit the library and getting a free library card
- Sharing information about free library events and programming suitable for all ages
- Assisting libraries in their outreach efforts to families who have not been library users in the past
UW Health’s 20 South Park Street Clinic does a great job collaborating with and promoting their local library. Information about library hours, events and programming is posted in the waiting room. Stacks of free Kidspages (a seasonal publication from the library highlighting children’s programming and reading tips) are available for families to take home.
This clinic has also created a wonderful literacy-rich environment with posters, gently-used books and a children’s reading area. Twice per week, the clinic has volunteers who read aloud to kids (and model ways to engage squirmy toddlers) while they wait for their doctor’s appointment.
While UW Health 20 South Park Street is a pediatric clinic they also recognize the importance of adult literacy. Information is posted about local resources for adults who may be struggling with their own literacy challenges. Magazines for adult readers are available for waiting parents. Seeing a parent read signals to the child that reading is important and can increase the child’s desire to read too.
For more information about finding a public library in your area visit the Wisconsin Public Library System Directory. To find more information about adult literacy resources across the state, visit Wisconsin Literacy’s website.