UNESCO policy on using libraries to support national literacy efforts

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning developed a policy brief on Using Libraries to Support National Literacy Efforts.

The policy brief examines the role of libraries in supporting lifelong literacy. It looks at how libraries nurture early literacy skills up to advanced levels of literacy proficiency, and the need for libraries to be involved in policy dialogue connected to literacy. The publication goes further to highlight the fact that libraries at every level, local and national, should be well-resourced to serve their surrounding communities and users in order to create a successful learning environment.

Used strategically, libraries have the potential to play a key role in promoting national literacy efforts, as they are trusted by people in the communities they serve and are in a good position to provide a wide variety of literacy opportunities. Libraries provide literacy resources for children, youth and adults at all proficiency levels, thereby making an enormous contribution to supporting a reading culture and the creation of a literate society. They are also an ideal community space for facilitating intergenerational and family learning.

Harnessing the potential power of libraries by integrating their activities with literacy efforts and strategies at local, regional and national levels will help countries achieve the literacy targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The policy brief is a result of an international workshop that was convened in April 2016 at UIL on ‘How Libraries Support National Literacy Efforts’. It includes the following key policy recommendations:

  1. Involve libraries in the policy dialogue surrounding literacy and ensure that libraries are an integral part of local and national literacy strategies and efforts.
  2. Enable libraries to contribute to a literate environment that encourages everyone to develop, enhance and sustain literacy skills within a lifelong learning perspective.
  3. Ensure that libraries are inclusive and have the knowledge and resources to provide relevant literacy materials in a welcoming space for marginalized, vulnerable and minority language groups.
  4. Institutionalize professionalization and invest in ongoing training for all library staff.
  5. Use data provided by libraries for better informed policy-making and coordination of the various literacy efforts of different stakeholders.

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