Adopt – A – Library Program

Building a sense of community through literacy.

The Adopt-a-Library Program gives children and youth tools and the skills so they have the power to decide not to engage in criminal behaviour. The tools and skills come through literacy. The Program works by partnering libraries with police. They bring together other community partners such as businesses, service clubs and agencies.

The results are:

  • Book collections that intrigue, inspire, educate and inform.
  • Programming that builds respect, sense of community, self-esteem and pride.
  • Safe community places for individuals and families, away from violence, drugs and gangs.
About the Program:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, partnering with other local policing agencies and libraries, have created an innovative Literacy Initiative, The Adopt a Library Literacy Program.

Adopt-A-Library works by connecting policing agencies together with libraries, public or school. The police act as the “bridge” between the community and the library, and in return, the library develops programs and activities that directly impact literacy amongst children.

The Program does not coordinate activities, rather it promotes the concept of literacy and crime prevention and helps to communicate ideas and opportunities to members and sponsors. Each of the members are free to develop their own strategy based upon local needs and directions.

The following is an example of a common strategy used by several police agencies and libraries:

  1. Police contact local businesses to explain the need to support literacy as a means of crime prevention.
  2.  Items are donated to libraries that are in turn used as prizes and incentives to encourage children to visit their local libraries.
  3. Cash donations are welcomed and are used for obtaining new books.
  4. Donations may also be used for much needed furniture and materials for children’s programming activities, such as puppet stages and craft supplies.
  5. In addition, donations have enabled libraries to take a more active role in supporting summer reading programs – a proven component of increased literacy levels.
  6. Children participating in reading and reading programs are counted as well as number of books read as a way of measuring the local impact.
What are the initiatives of the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program?

Other than offering sponsor discounts to members, the AAL has four initiatives that bring libraries, police, and children together.

Incentives play a role in all these initiatives. These help put children on the “reading track”, ensuring that reading is an activity that is regularly practiced and developed.

For libraries the benefit is increased participation in the library and support to programming. This partnership also generates increased publicity and positive community relations.

For police it is increased visibility in the community and the opportunity to interact with children in a fun and supportive way. Also, children are encouraged to take part in positive programs that encourage respect for themselves and others.

The Reading Challenge

Piloted in Cumberland and Pictou Counties, Nova Scotia, Canada and County Clare, Ireland public libraries and police organized a friendly challenge to schoolchildren grades primary to six. To be part of the Challenge children must have a public library card. The school that reads the most books (per capita) wins $3000 worth of books for their school library. Police and public library staff make regular “reading patrols” to schools; children “caught reading” receive an incentive, sometimes a book or small prize. Results are posted on the AAL website, www.fightingcrime.ca. After a successful pilot the Challenge was offered to other locations and has been very successful.

Athletes for Literacy

This initiative focuses on teen youth who have a tendency to stop reading and visiting the library. Sports gear (pucks, hockey sticks, ball gloves, etc) and memorabilia (cards, posters, jerseys, etc) are signed by sports personalities and displayed in public libraries. Youth receive a ballot every time they borrow books with their library card. Draws are held every month and there is a large grand prize draw yearly. Police visit junior hockey teams to speak about the importance of reading and visit public libraries with sports personalities.

Summer Reading Program Support

The AAL supports summer reading programs by partnering local and national companies and service agencies with public libraries. This partnership supplies incentives (books, small items, grand draw items) that encourage children to participate and ensures public libraries have the necessary equipment and materials to provide exciting and interesting programs. Police appear at various events throughout the summer to read with the children.

For further information please contact:

Cst. John Kennedy, Coordinator
Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program
PO Box 276, New Glasgow, NS, B2H 5E3
(902) 755-6031
aal@parl.ns.ca