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Public libraries have maintained that they are significant in fostering children's literacy since the first children's section was established in the late 1800s. But in times of economic uncertainty, decision-makers find it easy to levy budget cuts against discrete, relatively powerless entities such as libraries.
Regional approaches create entree for libraries to gain greater visibility and positioning within the educational and political communities. We then are able to enhance coalitions with other community partners, as is occurring in Colorado, where a statewide approach to early literacy has been gaining momentum since 2004. The state's new coalition, Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, serves as a template for statewide action.
The history of this successful coalition began in June 2003 with a conversation between the Colorado State Library community outreach staff person and a public-library librarian who had attended early literacy sessions at the American Library Association Annual Conference. Both became convinced that an early literacy initiative in the state was necessary and feasible.
As part of the Colorado Department of Education, the state library is aware and supportive of the department's emphasis on improving student achievement. The agency believes early literacy programs in libraries assist in that endeavor.
The state library's initiative originally was like Topsy: It just grew. ALA's Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children had created Every Child Ready to Read @ your library- - complete with research, training and tools--and the state library was ready to …