Putting SPELL into action: the results
These recommendations for public libraries and other organizations that serve parents of children birth through three are based on research findings from both phases of the SPELL project. It is not possible to incorporate all of the recommendations at one time; consider selecting a few items from the In Your Organization section and the Reaching Out section to begin with, or focus on incorporating the suggestions in one of the main headings in both of those two sections. Use the recommendations to inform your existing programs and services, as well as to incorporate into planning for new ones.
Each of the eight Colorado public libraries partnering in the SPELL project created a prototype based on research findings from the original SPELL project. Each prototype reflects partnerships, outreach and promotional methods, and early literacy messaging designed for effectiveness in specific communities. These case study narratives detail the community, library, and partnerships of each prototype, along with its activities, lessons learned, and impact. An infographic of each prototype is available as well for a visual overview.
Case study narratives
This toolkit is designed for public libraries and other organizations interested in working with community partners to plan and offer early literacy programs and services to low-income parents of children birth to three years old. The first section of this toolkit introduces you to the SPELL research projects, including the research and testing phases of this two-part grant and the SPELL Blueprint, a set of recommendations based on research results. Next, you will be introduced to the eight Colorado libraries that tested the findings of the SPELL researchers. Worksheets throughout the document help you utilize the research findings and tested examples to plan your own programs.
Based on research in library literature and SPELL findings, as well as experiences of libraries in Colorado, the Colorado State Library presents this white paper to recommend that public library administrators and governing bodies eliminate library fines, and reconsider fees for lost or damaged items, on children's materials, and other items as deemed appropriate for local service.
Staff at the Colorado State Library's Library Research Service created surveys for parents participating in the prototypes at the 8 SPELL partner libraries to complete. Staff at the 8 libraries asked parents participating in ongoing, multiple-session programs to complete the pre- and post-surveys. They administered the one-time surveys for stand-alone programs and events.
Pre- and Post-Survey Template
One-Time Survey Template
SPELL: The original Research
As part of the SPELL Project, the Colorado State Library researched best practices in reaching low-income parents of children birth through three with early literacy awareness and training.
In addition to researching organizations nationally, we also sent out a survey on several listservs over a two-week period to learn about examples of practices, programs and partnerships with other agencies that have been found to be successful (or not successful) in engaging and supporting parents in their role in building early literacy.
We reviewed peer-reviewed articles, books, conference proceedings and other literature to learn about successful and not so successful ways of reaching low-income parents in an effort to positively change their behavior.
Surveys and Focus Groups
In the third study phase, we surveyed parents of young children that use libraries in four low-income communities across the state to ascertain their patterns of and barriers to library use, methods of information gathering on parenting, early literacy knowledge and practice, and demographic information.
For our last phase of research, the SPELL team conducted focus groups with low-income parents of children ages birth through three for our final research phase. Using a protocol designed from the information learned in the first three phases, five focus groups were conducted in the same four communities in which we surveyed parents.
See our research methodologies and findings, including the survey and focus group protocol administered, in our research report.
You may also wish to view our webinar archive or slides from December 12, 2013, in which we discussed these findings; please go to the Webinars page on this website for more on that online presentation.