Welcome to It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader: Guidelines for Reading Promotion & Literacy Support in Community Libraries


A well-known African proverb teaches that “It takes a village to raise a child”. This reminds us that everyone in a community plays an important role in the welfare and development of children. This proverb could also apply as we explore the complexity of developing children’s reading habits by suggesting “It takes a village to raise a reader”. This implies educators, parents, community leaders and librarians all play a vital role in the development of children who not only can read, but who do read. It has particular implication when we focus on the untapped potential of community libraries in the promotion and provisioning of a culture for reading. While children may be the focus of reading promotion and literacy development, the same principles and goals apply when addressing the needs of youth, adults and seniors in the community. This site is dedicated to supporting library personnel working in small, relote community libraries who share the goals of creating a community of lifelong readers and learners.


This site originated from a series of workshops developed in collaboration with the staff at CODE-Ethiopia and with support from CODE in Canada. ( Information on CODE-Ethiopia – pdf)

For over 25 years CODE-Ethiopia (C-E) a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, has increased access to books to support literacy and to contribute to the creation of literate environments in rural Ethiopia. To date, this organization has established and stocked 97 community libraries (CLs) in remote, rural and under-served regions of the country.

As part of its community library (CL) initiative, CODE-Ethiopia (C-E) has developed an extensive training programme that for years has developed workshops to train library staff primarily in management and collection development activities. In their most recent phase of library development (2012 -2016), C-E has added an extensive training component incorporating the principles and strategies associated with reading promotion and literacy support. This phase of the training programme was developed by the creators of this website and the staff of CODE-Ethiopia.

This team developed a series of three, one-week workshops delivered face-to-face with 50 library staff from different regions of Ethiopia. Workshops focused on skills in library management and developing a comprehensive library programme rooted in principles of reading promotion, literacy support and increasing the culture for reading throughout the respective communities. Participants were immersed in an active learning environment where they worked on real-life problems facing them in their communities and established explicit goals for getting their particular community library programmes off the ground.

After the first set of workshops (November 2012), participants had detailed tasks they were expected to complete by the next set of workshops (April 2013). In April, they brought documentation of their work and shared their successes and challenges with their colleagues. Examples of documentation included photographs, working manuals, plans, children’s drawing as response to stories, list of girls in reading clubs, library signage and displays and production of a local newspaper. After participating in another week of workshops that month, they embarked with more advanced tasks to complete and document. They returned for the final week of workshops in November 2013 at which point they engaged with a team of Lead Librarians, individuals designated by their Regional Bureaus of Education for library advocacy work.


Although this set of Modules and Learning Activities emerged out of the CODE-Ethiopia workshops and the experiences of library personnel from 35 community libraries throughout rural Ethiopia, we believe others who work in libraries will find the information helpful. Many library personnel do not have easy access to professional programmes or even professional learning expereiences. It is hoped this website will help people develop stronger library programmes built on the principles of building a “culture for reading” in their communities.


The site is built around four Modules with a series of follow-up activities in each Module. Each Module begins with a general overview of its contents and goals. Each sub-category for the Module follows through key ideas that build on each other. It would be best to read/study each sub-category in the order they are presented. The Modules also contact photographs, links to resources,  slideshows, and other learning support materials. The Navigation bar at the right of the website and the drop-down menus at the top of the site should facilitate easy navigation through the site.


It should be noted that the site does not cover typical library management skills such as cataloguing, circulation, collection development or collection management. The focus is on developing a rich library programme for reading promotion and supporting learners in their research, study skills and general literacy development.

The Four Modules are:

1) General Principles- foundational information on community libraries and their role/function.

2) The Library Programme – seven standards are outlined and monitoring procedures are detailed.

3) Reading Promotion – general rules for reading promotion and many examples of useful strategies.

4) Literacy/Learning – ways library staff can support research, reference skills and literacy development.


The workshop developers and website creators are:

Marlene Asselin, PhD is a faculty member at the University of British Columbia working in the areas of literacy, early childhood education, teacher and community librarianship and international development. She works with the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE) and its partner CODE-Ethiopia where she is involved in librarian training. She is part of the research team of the newly launched Africa Storybook Project (http://www.africanstorybook.org/) Her recent book, entitled Literacy, Learning and Libraries in Global Contexts, co-authored with Dr. Ray Doiron, focusses on the emerging role of libraries as community partners in global literacy development initiatives. marlene.asselin@ubc.ca

Ray Doiron, PhD is Professor Emeritus at University of Prince Edward Island. He has taught in teacher education programmes focused in early literacy, as well as graduate programmes in school librarianship. His research interests include the role of play in early child development, early literacy, digital technologies, school librarianship and the role libraries play in reading promotion, supporting literacy and building a culture for literacy. He has worked to support reading promotion through community libraries in Ethiopia as well as a program evaluator, workshop leader and mentor for CODE-Ethiopia. raydoiron@upei.ca


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