A Librarian's Guide to Engaging Families in Learning
by M. Elena Lopez, Bharat Mehra, and Margaret Caspe, Editors
September 2021, 215pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-7583-0
$60, £47, 53€, A83
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7584-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Learn how your library can promote family engagement in children’s learning.

Public libraries can increase their impact on knowledge development, innovation, and social change by promoting parent and family engagement in children's learning.

Libraries are increasingly focusing on families. Educational research confirms that family engagement in children’s learning and development predicts school readiness, positive social behaviors, high school graduation, interest in STEM careers, and post-secondary education.

A Librarian’s Guide to Engaging Families in Learning will inspire libraries and librarians to innovate and promote family learning from a child’s earliest years through adolescence. By bringing together research and practice, it will deepen librarians’ understanding of families’ role in education and help them to learn new ways to build positive and trusting family partnerships that honor diverse cultures and languages, as well as to develop leadership for community impact.

Written by thought leaders in the fields of family engagement and library science, each of the three main sections of the book begins with a framework followed by case studies illustrating key concepts of the framework. Cases are followed by reflections from practicing librarians. All chapters focus on practical family engagement in the social infrastructure, lifelong learning, and diversity and social justice.


  • Includes ideas to inspire innovative family engagement practices in libraries
  • Provides research to help librarians make the case for resources to promote family engagement in public libraries
  • Offers content for coursework and continuing education in children's services
M. Elena Lopez, PhD, is an independent researcher on the ecology of learning that includes the home, school, and community. She regularly contributes to research, policy, and practice on family engagement in children’s learning. Trained in social anthropology, she is interested in the dynamic interplay of individual agency and system factors in promoting educational equity. As a member of the board of the Mountain View Public Library (2016–2021), she has sought to develop policies for greater access and engagement with library programs and services.

Bharat Mehra, PhD, is professor and EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. Growing up in India created an awareness and acceptance of human diversity in its multiple forms of expression, thought, and action. His training as an architect in New Delhi made him visually literate and sensitive towards human factors in design. His many research interests include diversity and inclusion advocacy, intercultural communication and action, social justice in library and information science, community engaged scholarship, and critical and cross-cultural studies.

Margaret Caspe, PhD, is an educator, researcher, and writer who focuses on how families, early childhood programs, schools, and communities support children's learning. She is coeditor of Promising Practices for Engaging Families in STEM Learning, and her work has appeared in Public Library Quarterly, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, School Community Journal, Young Children, and Childhood Education.


"Provid[es] numerous interesting stories to help librarians and educators learn from each other in how to connect with families."—School Community Journal, May 18, 2022

"A Librarian’s Guide to Engaging Families in Learning provides a significant contribution to the professional development literature. This timely and valuable resource brings together the work of some of the most knowledgeable and credible researchers. Together, they successfully lay out key issues for library faculty and librarians to integrate family engagement in children’s learning."—Patricia A. Edwards, Professor, Michigan State University

"Public libraries are centered in this book that promotes family engagement in learning. This essential professional and teaching resource provides cases, research, and reflections that ground and re-imagine your library’s services in family learning as a collaborative process. It is an invitation to work with families from different and all walks of life to instill the practice of lifelong learning and support community building and empowerment."—Clara M. Chu, Mortenson Distinguished Professor and Director, Mortenson Center for International Library Programs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"A Librarian’s Guide to Engaging Families in Learning provides an in-depth look at family learning, which is essential to children’s development. This book is divided into four parts that touch all facets that one needs to know to develop family learning. In particular, Part 2, Knowing Families and Communities, provides information about programs that can be easily replicated to your own needs."—Nancy C. Pack, Director, Alabama Public Library Service
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