California Library Literacy Services partner with adults to enable them to develop their literacy skills, achieve their learning goals, and use library services effectively. They create opportunities for individuals, families, and communities across California.


1. California Library Literacy Services are Library-Based

Public libraries are uniquely suited to providing literacy services. The library is a trusted space at the heart of the community. It provides a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment. And it contains resources and services that support lifelong learning.

Program Essentials
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  • Literacy services are anchored by the public library. Tutoring is provided in the library. If tutoring is provided elsewhere, a strong connection to the library is made and maintained for all enrolled learners.
  • All learners, their families, and program volunteers are supported in obtaining a library card.
  • Program staff connect learners with library services and resources to help them and their families succeed.
  • Program staff create a supportive and welcoming environment within the library for learners and their families.


2. California Library Literacy Services are a Core Library Service

Literacy services contribute to the library’s mission to provide equity of access to lifelong learning opportunities. Literacy services also bring a new and diverse clientele to the library, increase the library’s visibility, and enhance community goodwill toward the library.

Program Essentials

  • The local library provides funding and resources to support library literacy services.
  • Library administration assign dedicated, professional staff to library literacy services.
  • Program staff are closely connected with library administration and other library staff.
  • Library literacy services are included in the library’s story (e.g. in the strategic plan, annual report etc.) and the library’s branding is included on literacy materials.
  • Literacy services and all materials are provided at no cost to program participants.


3. California Library Literacy Services are Learner-Driven

Learner-driven services empower learners to find their voice and strengths and achieve their goals in their major life roles as lifelong learners, family members, workers, and community members. Learner-driven services benefit the individual learner, help to build stronger workplaces, families, and communities, and add value to the library literacy program.

Program Essentials

  • Adult learners set personal goals that guide instruction and shape learning.
  • Library literacy services are provided one-to-one or in small groups (e.g. 2-8 people) to provide individualized and learner-driven training.
  • Library literacy services use a goal-based system to measure learners’ progress and achievements.
  • Library literacy services provide programming that enables adult learners to meet and learn from each other.
  • Adult learners strengthen their leadership skills through special initiatives such as Adult Learner Leadership Institutes, as Adult Learners on Staff, and through other opportunities.
  • Library literacy services recruit and train learners to serve as staff members, volunteers, and program ambassadors.
  • Program staff connect people who require services that are not provided by California Library Literacy Services with other agencies that can better address their needs and goals.


4. California Library Literacy Services are Community-Focused

Library Literacy Services have a strong community presence. Services are relevant and responsive to adult learners, their families, and their communities. Library literacy services are grounded in community knowledge that program staff generate by interacting with individuals and organizations in the library and the community on an ongoing basis.

Program Essentials

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  • Program staff develop services that align with their community’s aspirations.
  • Program staff develop services that are responsive to the diversities in their community.
  • Program staff take an asset-based approach when assessing and connecting with their community.
  • Program staff create and sustain connections and partnerships with individuals, community-based organizations, and other local government agencies.
  • Program staff develop cooperative relationships with other local literacy service providers and participate in existing adult literacy coalitions. (If no local coalition currently exists, library literacy staff shall assist in the establishment of such a coalition.)


5. California Library Literacy Services are Volunteer-Supported

Tutors and other volunteers are fundamental to the success of California Library Literacy Services. Volunteers are advocates for the library and its literacy services, and they help library literacy programs reflect the library’s community. In turn, programs enrich volunteers’ lives, helping them develop expertise to succeed in the roles they play in the program, opening avenues of meaningful connections with others, and providing opportunities to practice and support lifelong learning in their community.

Program Essentials

  • Program staff work to recruit volunteers who reflect the community’s demographic and cultural characteristics.
  • Volunteer tutors are provided with tutor training before starting to work with a learner, and ongoing training opportunities thereafter.
  • Volunteers are encouraged and supported in establishing and achieving their own goals as volunteers.
  • Volunteers are provided with opportunities to serve as ambassadors for the library literacy program.
  • Volunteer contributions are publicly and privately acknowledged.


6. California Library Literacy Services Staff are Professionally Engaged

Professional development opportunities and training for program staff and volunteers are fundamental to ensuring high-quality adult and family library literacy services.

Program Essentials

  • Program staff participate in California Library Literacy Services regional networks to share information and learn from one another.
  • Program staff seek out and participate in local, regional, and statewide library literacy professional development and training opportunities.
  • Program staff seek out and implement effective and evidence-based strategies in providing literacy services.
  • The library literacy program encourages and supports innovation and the evaluation and sharing of innovative efforts.
  • The library literacy program supports and encourages a culture of learning and continuing education, whether virtual, in-person, experiential, or through open and ongoing communication.


7. California Library Literacy Services Support Families

Family Literacy Services contribute to strong communities and families. An open and equitable program culture welcomes families and diverse community stakeholders, and celebrates curiosity, inquiry, and joyful discovery.

Services are based on proven practices. They build on communities’ and families’ strengths, complement families’ home literacy practices, and align with learners’ aspirations. Family Literacy Services connect and engage families with programming, resources, and each other so adults can learn new things to use in family life. Staff embed reflective practices in all aspects of service to improve programming and to demonstrate the value that family literacy delivers to families and the community.

Family Literacy Services align with all other California Library Literacy Services Program Essentials.

Program Essentials

  • Family Literacy Services focus on adult literacy learners and their family members, younger and older generations alike. Adult learners are either already enrolled in a CLLS program or are eligible to be enrolled.
  • Program staff provide services in the library and through community outreach.
  • Program staff include principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in program planning and delivery.
  • Literacy program staff collaborate with other library departments when doing so can maximize opportunities for learners and families in promoting lifelong library use and offering enjoyable family reading and storytelling experiences, advocacy training, and more.
  • Program staff engage both enrolled and not yet enrolled adult learners in designing program plans that are based on learners’ aspirations as family members.
  • Program staff offer learning opportunities that foster meaningful social bonds as families share and discover resources, learn from each other and generate knowledge.
  • Program staff design programming that can engage adults in several ways: together with their families, separately from their families, and for enrolled learners, in conjunction with tutoring sessions.
  • Family literacy resources include library, community, and peer-recommended information and are tailored to the roles learners play in their families, their aspirations, and the developmental stages of family members.
  • Family literacy giveaway materials include new books, kits, games and other engaging and informative items for learners and their families to select, keep and enjoy at home.
  • Program staff offer services, as necessary, to enable families to participate in programming.
  • Program staff share strategies with learners to help them reflect on their learning, and they regularly assess and evaluate programming.