New report highlights social impact of library-based early literacy programs

Illustration of toddlers and parents crowding around a tablet, sharing storytime

First 5 Forever is an early and family literacy initiative coordinated by State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and first implemented in 2015. It is delivered in partnership with local councils, the network of Queensland public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres, and other government and non-government agencies throughout Queensland.

The DMRC research team, led by Professor Jean Burgess, was asked to identify and evaluate the broader societal impacts of the initiative, building on the Libraries as Creative Spaces impact evaluation framework, which was created by DMRC researchers in a previous partnership with SLQ. Drawing on a contextual review, existing First 5 Forever data and evaluations, as well as interviews with First 5 Forever and public library staff, the First 5 Forever initiative was evaluated in terms of the framework’s eight primary criteria.

The report demonstrates that public libraries are highly appropriate vehicles through which to support, facilitate, and lead early literacy development programs. While primarily built around promoting and improving early literacy, the First 5 Forever initiative is also a community facilitator and connector, supporting families and children through a culture of participation and lifelong learning. The report also highlights that the opportunities and challenges posed by digital media technologies for young children and families will be central to the future development of such initiatives.

Read the full report here (PDF), and SLQ’s announcement here.