Literacy Redefined

How To Integrate Multiple Literacies Into Your Strategic Plan and Library Initiatives

September 27–October 19, 2017

Live Sessions on Wednesdays at 1:00 PM ET: September 27, October 4, 11 & Thursday, October 19. Bridged with Online Workshops and Discussions

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Join leading advocates for literacy programming in public libraries for this live, interactive online event and workshop.  

The editors of Library Journal and School Library Journal have convened some of today’s leading advocates, thinkers, and doers on literacy programming in public libraries, including speakers from the March 2017 Public Library Think Tank in Miami, to discuss in actionable terms how public librarians are redefining literacy.

The program will address literacy in its widest sense—digital, media/information, civic, reading readiness, visual, multicultural, and health literacy—and will identify tools for leveraging partnerships to fuel programming and funding.

Who should take this course?

This event is designed for public library leaders, managers, and directors, children’s services librarians, young adult librarians, school librarians, and anyone with an interest in financial literacy.

Online Course Features

  • Instructor-led online courses feature personalized interaction over four weeks
  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live webcast (with recordings available if you can’t join live)
  • Weekly assignments to help you make progress on your goals
  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment to help guide your work

Inspiring Live Guest Speakers + Project-Based Learning

Engage with presenters via live video stream, visual presentations, and chats, and work through practical ideas in groups with guidance from an advisor to learn how to  integrate literacy into your library’s strategic plan.

In this free course preview live webcast, Library Journal’s Executive Editor Meredith Schwartz shares four case studies of innovative literacy programming and show how integrating literacy into your library’s strategic plan can improve outcomes. Meredith also introduces the program of the new online workshop Literacy Redefined, which starts September 27.

Group discounts are available!

Register in groups for a unique team-building experience and get everyone working together. Contact us to learn more.


Course Schedule

WEEK 1: Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Welcome to Class

12:45-1:00 PM ET

Library Journal and School Library Journal reviews director Kiera Parrott, who helped design this course, will welcome you to class and provide insights into the course structure, speaker program, and assignments to help you get the most out of class.


Kiera Parrott
Kiera Parrott
, Reviews Director, Library Journal and School Library Journal; former children’s librarian

SESSION 1: Please Secure Your Mask Before Helping Others: Planning, Multiple Literacies, and Building Internal Capacity in the Library

1:00-1:45 PM ET

When Jason Kucsma arrived at Toledo-Lucas County Library in 2015, he and team spend more than the seven months to develop a new and nontraditional strategic plan by working with hundreds of community stakeholders, the general public, and more than 300 staff members. They posted a survey online to gather information from patrons and provided an email link so people could send thoughts and questions. As Kucsma told Library Journal, the plan was focused on “supporting essential literacies (reading, financial, digital, health and wellness, etc.), increasing our community engagement, and fostering a culture of innovation and leadership….” In this opening keynote, he will share details of this process, with a special focus on the library called out multiple literacies ‘intentionally,’ and he will share his evolving plan as a model that other libraries can use for inspiration and ideas.

Opening Keynote:

Jason Kucsma
Jason Kucsma, Deputy Director, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library (OH); named one of the Change Agents in Library Journal‘s Movers & Shakers 2017

SESSION 2: Early Literacy Programs and the Foundation of Learning

1:45-2:30 PM ET

This session will explore progressive examples of early literacy programs and their intersection with public education. Play is essential to early learning, and creating a well-designed space for play at the library can be a key. This session will also include the family connection that is essential to running a successful early literacy program, including how to target the grownups. It will also touch on early literacy’s connection to equity in education and how the library can foster that, especially in areas that don’t have access to universal pre-K or other forms of early public education.


Rachel Payne
Rachel Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services at Brooklyn Public Library (NY)

Weekly Assignment:
Set goals for integrating literacy into strategic plan; build program outline or goals. With personalized written guidance on your work from a facilitator within an online group workshop environment.

WEEK 2: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

SESSION 1: How to Use Data in Planning

1:00-1:45 PM ET

Learn how statistical data about libraries can inform your literacy planning in this session with John Horrigan, Senior Researcher at Pew Research Center. Horrigan’s work, “The Role of Libraries in Advancing Community Goals,” reflects on the evolving role of public libraries in advancing community goals. He will share his analysis of the relationship between government and libraries (particularly library funding), with a special focus on conceptions and misconceptions related to how the two bodies view each other. He will share national data that can help inform your strategic planning goals and program initiatives and inspire your own research at the local level.


John Horrigan
John Horrigan, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center (DC)

SESSION 2: Visual Literacy

1:45-2:30 PM ET

A look at the library exhibitions, art, and visual literacy programs at Miami-Dade Public Library, where visual literacy is an essential component of their overall literacy planning. Library exhibitions and programming specialist Oscar Fuentes will share the tactical details of how he sets up exhibitions, works with branches, coordinates with artists, and integrates education into the library’s visual literacy program within a city known for its bold, colorful culture.


Oscar Fuentes
Oscar Fuentes, Library Exhibitions & Programming Specialist, Art Services, Miami-Dade Public Library (FL)

Weekly Assignment:
Gather data about your own community. With personalized written guidance on your work from a facilitator within an online group workshop environment.

WEEK 3: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SESSION 1: Food Literacy 

1:00 PM-1:45 PM ET

Join us for a bigger picture look at how food, nutrition, and health literacy are integrated into the plan and mission at Free Library of Philadelphia. Library president and director Siobhan Reardon will share why she deemed this program essential and how she built it to the point of housing a fully functioning teaching kitchen in the library. She’ll share how she tied the food literacy program into her library’s strategic plan, how she built support for the program, and what the future of health and nutrition literacy could look like in Philadelphia.


Siobhan Reardon
Siobhan Reardon, President & Director, Free Library of Philadelphia (PA)

SESSION 2: Civic and Media Literacy and the Library’s Role in Public Action and Discourse

1:45-2:30 PM ET

What is the library’s role in voter registration, civic involvement, and community improvement? This session will examine how to integrate various forms of civic and media literacy with educational programming and will demonstrate how you can do the same. Plus, it will examine examples of libraries (and their directors and staffers) who became leaders in their communities by getting community and government leaders to work with the library as an important hub and resource for change.


Aimee Reinhart
Aimee Rinehart, Partner Network, Communications and Project Manager, First Draft News

Weekly Assignment:
Using the data gathered in the prior week, and the library’s strategic focus on literacy, begin designing a literacy program or initiative; work on the literacy component of the strategic plan. With personalized written guidance on your work from a facilitator within an online group workshop environment.

WEEK 4: Thursday, October 19, 2017

SESSION 1: How Literacy is Integrated in the Strategic Plan in One Library System

1:00-1:45 PM ET

An alternative look at literacy as a component of a strategic plan at another library. This tactical session will share both the philosophy and the day to day examples of literacy programs in action as they span literacies including digital, visual, early learning, art, technology, and makerspaces. Each example will tie back to the library’s mission and strategic plan.


Jennifer Shipley
Jennifer Shipley
, Library Operations Administrator, Miami-Dade Public Library (FL)

SESSION 2: Closing Keynote with Literacy Advocate, Author, and Pediatrician Perri Klass

1:45-2:30 PM ET

Early literacy advocate, author, and pediatrician Perri Klass has built a career focused on the health and wellness of children. As a physician, she guides their physical health, but as the National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, a program that works through pediatric health care providers to encourage parents to read aloud with their young children, she has worked with doctors and nurses around the country to help them incorporate books and reading into the care they deliver to children from birth to age five. By helping parent understand the benefits of early literacy, health care providers can support their abilities to interact with their young children, to foster language development, and to enhance early literacy skills and school readiness. And even for parents who were not read to themselves, children’s books offer ways to build stable routines and comfort and learning in the home. “When I think about children growing up in homes without books,” Dr. Klass wrote in an essay, “I have the same visceral reaction as I have when I think of children in homes without milk or food or heat: It cannot be, it must not be. It stunts them and deprives them before they’ve had a fair chance.” In this closing keynote, she will discuss her observations about the impact of early literacy on children, the role that reading aloud can play in brain development, and she’ll discuss successful collaborations between health care and libraries.


Perri Klass
Perri Klass, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, New York University; Director, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute; National Medical Director, Reach Out and Read; Author; Journalist

Weekly Assignment:
Continue to build out and further define the program, initiative, or strategic plan. With personalized written guidance on your work from a facilitator within an online group workshop environment.