On April 28 and 29, 61 public librarians from around the state completed a two-day Vermont Early Literacy Initiative (VELI) conference, convened by the Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB) and the Vermont Center for the Book (VCB).
Librarians learned how to enrich their practice by incorporating important early literacy, early mathematics, and social-emotional development concepts and skills into their story hours and other traditional library programming for parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers. They also learned how to recruit and provide programming to informal caregivers through the Family, Friends and Neighbor Network (FFN). After VELI training,Vermont public librarians have the necessary tools to work with children, families and caregivers to ensure that all children enter school ready to learn.
“Research on early literacy and brain development has shown that it is never too early to prepare children for school and lifelong learning,” said Martha Reid, state librarian. “Our public librarians are in unique positions to provide young children, parents and childcare providers with the resources and material that researchers say are crucial to school success.”
During the conference librarians were given the necessary information and tools to help transform story hours and traditional programming into standards-based, engaging and interactive learning experiences and to provide family programs and trainings for community childcare providers.
“The goal of VELI is to ensure that public librarians intentionally incorporate literacy, mathematics and social-emotional development vocabulary, content and skills into all of their interactions with children and families,” said Sally Anderson, executive director for the Vermont Center for the Book. “Interest from public libraries continues to grow each year, which means that children all across Vermont are being reached in meaningful ways.”
The first day of this year’s conference was an intensive training for 30 new VELI libraries. The second day, all VELI libraries were invited to attend and learn more about the Family, Friends and Neighbor Network (FFN) of informal childcare providers and how to provide programming and resources for those caregivers. Librarians received VELI Librarian Manuals, picture books, hands-on learning materials (thanks to funding provided by Vermont Birth to Three) and programming ideas.
Local libraries that attended included the Castleton Free Library, the Fletcher Memorial Library in Ludlow, the Hartford Library, the Hartland Public Library, the Norman Williams Library in Woodstock, the Sherburne Memorial Library in Killington, and four new VELI libraries: the Cavendish Town Library, the Chittenden Public Library, the Pawlet Public Library, and the Windsor Public Library.
Since 2010, 83 librarians will have received training in early and preschool literacy and preschool mathematics. From 2010 to 2014, 1,060 families were reached through programs, impacting over 2,000 children, and 530 child-care providers were trained and received books and materials to use with over 2,500 children in their care. To date, thousands of children and parents who attended story times in a VELI library received information and guidance in the areas of early and preschool literacy and preschool mathematics