RBF_3_05_The Robert Bowne Foundation and Library Development in Out-of-School Time Programs

In 2002-2003, the Robert Bowne Foundation (RBF) officially launched its "Library Development Initiative," thereby building on and extending its library development work with individual grantees. The initial project description set a high bar, aiming to: “increase children's access to high-quality reading materials” as well as to “create, implement and promote library programs that are appropriate for the agency and the developmental needs and interests of the children and young people who attend the program.”

The Initiative offered participants: Grant support, library-development workshops for program staff, individualized program support, and the Foundation's online Page Turners e-Newsletter of Library Support

GWS will resolve =======PROBLEM ======= replace with link to Page Turners e-newsletter once it is transferred to OST Hub from RBF website, currently: http://robertbownefoundation.org/publication_full.php?publicationId=73.

The RBF began the eNewsletter in June 2003 and continued to offer it through the summer of 2007, publishing articles on such topics as Stages of Reading Development, Reading Like a Writer, Books for Children, Media Literacy, and Afterschool Advocacy.

In 2005, the RBF re-named the grants the Julia Palmer Award for Library Development Grants to honor Palmer, both an early advisor to Dianne Kangisser and champion of children's literacy. RBF support for Julia Palmer grantees evolved over time.  The original orientation session developed over time into a series of in-person and online seminars that provided library development support while exploring the possibilities of virtual professional development. In its final evolution, there were several iterations of a year-long seminar, the Julia Palmer Library Development and Literacy Support Project. Here, a committed group of grantee staff members met monthly to learn and employ an Action Research approach to library development, exploring literacy through such activities as journal writing, book clubs, and publication of personal writing.

From 2010-2015, the RBF's Anne Lawrence worked in partnership with Suzanne Marten of the Center for Educational Options (CEO), offering grantees the opportunity to participate in an annual nine-month-long Julia Palmer Library Development and Literacy Support Project Seminar  [PDF8_Snapshot_Literacy_PD_Examples]. Project components included: financial support for the afterschool program’s library; a mix of in-person and virtual professional development sessions for two staff members from each participating program, including two sessions -- an orientation and final celebration -- also attended by program directors; an additional session designed specifically for program directors; and individualized, on-site, program support provided by Suzanne Marten.

Critical aspects of the effort of each participating agency included:

  • Articulating an action research question to guide its library development activities;
  • Conducting a survey to identify the library needs of its constituencies, often ranging from preschoolers to community seniors;
  • Engagement in small group activities with an ongoing cohort of participating programs with similar action research questions; and
  • Exploring, as a full group, a variety of approaches to reading and writing, and discussing the implications of workshop activities for their programs.

Based on participant reports, two particularly effective group activities include: a book club experience with Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman [2013-2014]; a publication of personal writing in which each participant considers her/his own name [2014-2015].

Participants report that their involvement in the Seminar's professional learning community stimulated their visions about libraries as well as supported their abilities to:  transform their program libraries; create engaging literacy activities; and develop and support organizational cultures.

From early on, the Seminar facilitators worked to create a learning community among participants.  This meant using activities that:

  • Built trust by engaging participants with each other;
  • Encouraged exploration and learning among and across participants; and
  • Supported participants in thinking together about ways to apply their new skills and knowledge to their own program.


  • Snapshot: Examples of Library and Literacy Professional Development [PDF8_Snapshot_Literacy_PD_Examples]

GWS will resolve======= PROBLEM =========Archive of The Page Turner eNewsletter, new link to location on the Hub.  Formerly reachable at: http://robertbownefoundation.org/publication_full.php?publicationId=73