Watertown Library Part of Harvard Study of Libraries as Center for Family Engagement

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Harvard Library Study

When Harvard University researchers wanted a good example of a public library that fosters family engagement, it looked to the Watertown Free Public Library. 

The town’s library was one studied for the Harvard Family Research Project’s paper, Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement by M. Elena Lopez, Margaret Caspe and Lorette McWilliams. The study looks at ways that libraries can promote family engagement which in turn promotes learning for children.

For the study, Harvard partnered with the Public Library Association (PLA). They surveyed library directors around the country about their family engagement practices, met monthly with a learning community of nearly 20 librarians interested in family engagement, according to the paper.

Watertown Library Director Leone Cole told the Town Council recently that she and her staff were pleased to contribute to Harvard Family Research Project’s study.

“Part of the study is with family engagement at the library,” Cole said. “We were chosen because of our reputation. Our staff does the work. Children are reading earlier and earlier because families are engaged.”

The paper highlights Watertown’s library in a highlighted section that says:

“Librarians from Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts keep families coming back by involving them in creating the programming. By offering programs and services that families say they want, libraries demonstrate that they are listening and responding to feedback. This fosters a positive library-family relationship as well as a sense of ownership among families.”

Leone notes that the Watertown library has programs for infants all the way through their life through the time they are senior citizens.

Other libraries that took part in the study include the 24 members of the Maryland library system, the Waukegan Public Library, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Houston Public Library.

See more about the library by clicking here, and find a link to download a PDF of the paper (link is near the top of the page).

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