The changing perspectives of librarians in the Better Beginnings family literacy program
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education/Centre for Research in Early Childhood
Libraries across Australia are becoming increasingly involved in the development and implementation of family literacy programs, placing librarians at the centre of this initiative. Better Beginnings is a family literacy program developed by the State Library of Western Australian and delivered throughout the state. The program involves a partnership between public libraries, health professionals and local governments that has developed to support the delivery of early literacy resources and strategies to parents of young babies. Librarians play a major role in the delivery, implementation and sustainability of the program. This paper reports the findings from the longitudinal evaluation of Better Beginnings in four communities, across four years, in relation to the perspectives of librarians responsible for the program in their library. Librarians were interviewed about their role in the program and its effectiveness, the training they had received and the collaboration between the professionals involved in the program. The data revealed that over a period of four years librarians had developed an understanding of the purpose and importance of the program, which had led to a sense of ownership and commitment. This was supported by central coordination of the program and collaboration with child-health nurses. Over the four years, they had developed and increased library activities and created family spaces linked to Better Beginnings. They felt the program was effective in promoting literacy in families with young children, but sought more strategies for engaging families that did not traditionally visit libraries or have access to libraries.