Enriching Library Services

Libraries are one of the essential community pillars that support and nurture early childhood development.

The Early Learning with Families (ELF) initiative helps libraries support the educational and social-emotional needs of young children, their families and caregivers in their communities.

ELF is based on the knowledge that the first five years of life are critical in the formative development of children and families.

ELF provides California public library staff with resources, tools and professional development training and helps ensure that libraries provide high quality, engaging, family-focused, and developmentally appropriate early learning services that support family strengths and nurture young children's bodies, minds and spirits.

"Families were more likely to visit the library together than engage in any other leisure activity in 2019. In fact, libraries were the top cultural destination for all Americans in 2019, outpacing movies, museums, live music, and sporting events across all sectors of the population."
McCarthy, Justin. 2020. “In U.S., Library Visits Outpaced Trips to Movies in 2019.” Washington, DC: Gallup.

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

2018 ELF Impact Report: Promising Practices


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 Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit.


California public libraries are designing and delivering high quality, interactive learning opportunities to engage young children and their families all across the state. Together, Learning More! Interactive Family Learning in California's Libraries highlights innovative programs that encourage social interaction and provides a research-backed lens on the impact on children’s life-long learning and social-emotional development.