Enriching Library Services

Early Learning with Families (ELF) is a California State Library initiative intended to support the evolution of library services to young children (0-5), their families and caregivers. The initiative is based on the knowledge that the first five years of life are critical in the formative development of children and families, and that libraries are one of the community pillars that support and nurture optimal early childhood development.

"In California, more than a 1100 public libraries (from small rural hamlets and in large urban municipalities), are visited each year by more than 6 million young children and their families. In fact, public libraries are second only to public parks as the MOST frequented destination by families with young children. " Applied Survey Research & California State Library Statistics

ELF libraries serve their communities by providing high quality, engaging, family-focused, and developmentally appropriate early learning services that support family strengths and nurture young children's bodies, minds and spirits. To see our latest Impact Reports:

2018 ELF Impact Report: Diversity of Place, People and Programs

2018 ELF Impact Report: Promising Practices

2016 ELF Impact Report


For more information about ELF contact:

California State Library
Library Development Services Bureau
Phone: 916-653-7532
Fax: 916-653-8443

Video about Early Learning with Families ELF 2.0


Children’s natural learning techniques (like pretend play, games, and conversing with others) have been scientifically shown to be better suited to meeting the challenges of the information age than the teaching methods of the past two centuries. For more information and practical programming tips to help us rethink preschool programs in libraries, see our new Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit.


Good things are happening in California libraries. Many have spent years dedicating resources and staff expertise to designing and delivering quality early learning services for families. It is through their work and this statewide ELF initiative that promising practices continue to evolve and grow.