California’s public libraries deliver evidence-based programs that benefit individuals, families, and communities.

By the Numbers

two women read togetherDuring the 2018-2019 fiscal year:¹

  • 107 library jurisdictions, comprising 981 library outlets, provided library-based literacy services to adult learners and their families.
  • 64 jurisdictions delivered family literacy programs to supplement their adult literacy tutoring programs.
  • 15,668 adult learners received tutoring.
  • 4,206 families including 7,985 children took part in family literacy programs.
  • 8,962 parents and caregivers and 18,580 children were served through Mobile Library Literacy Services.
  • 8,018 volunteer tutors and 1,901 other volunteers supported the program.
  • $23.3 million was invested locally to match the state’s $7.3 million investment.
  • $18.7 million was contributed in volunteer service hours.
  • 981 partnering agencies worked with library literacy programs, including schools, community colleges, homeless shelters, and juvenile justice departments.


Literacy is more than just reading and writing. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defines literacy as “understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written text to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”²

Libraries that delivered family literacy services helped adults develop confidence and skills in supporting their child’s education and created opportunities for families to develop a culture of positive learning experiences together.

82 percent of the learners in California Library Literacy Services programs who set at least one goal for themselves achieved their goal.

As a Lifelong Learner

  • 91 percent obtained a library card.
  • 78 percent read a book, newspaper, or magazine.
  • 74 percent learned the alphabet.

As a Family Member

  • 77 percent took a child to storytime at the library.
  • 82 percent shared a book with their child.
  • 67 percent read a medicine label.

As a Worker

  • 66 percent completed a job application.
  • 64 percent searched for a job.
  • 49 percent got a job or a promotion.

As a Community Member

  • 80 percent accessed community services and resources.
  • 66 percent volunteered in their community.
  • 46 percent voted.

Benefits to Individuals, Families, and Communities

man and woman read from bookResearch shows that adult learners in adult literacy education benefit from improved reading, writing, and numeracy skills, and improved self-image. They experience gains in employment and increases in earnings. They achieve personal goals and report that their involvement in their children’s schoolwork has increased.

Volunteers also benefit from California Library Literacy Services. They recognize and value their own skills, and they experience the reward and excitement of receiving the first email from an adult who is learning to use a computer, seeing an adult light up as they read a book to a child for the first time, seeing a learner take the citizenship exam or pass the GED, and changing someone’s life.

As learners become more confident in their skills, they are more able to contribute to the well-being of their communities. They become less isolated and more involved. Everyone benefits.³

¹ 2018-2019 is the most recent year for which data are available.


³ See more information on the need for library literacy programs in California and the positive interventions delivered in California’s public libraries.