Literacy: the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, achieve one's goals, and develop one's knowledge and potential.
—American Library Association Committee on Literacy
Basic, functional literacy is an essential skill for an individual’s personal and professional growth—it is also key to their full, beneficial use of a library’s services and programs. Yet, according to a study conducted in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Education and National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S.—14 %—cannot read. 21% of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19% of high school graduates can't read at all.
The implications of these statistics are alarming, indicatiing that many adults cannot identify a specific location on a map, complete a job application or an insurance form, understand the instructions on a medicine bottle, or effectively help their children with homework.
With a long tradition of providing resources and services for adults wanting to improve their reading and writing skills, libraries are committed to helping children and adults develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in a global information society.
The American Dream Starts @ your library
“Here in the library you are in good hands. Welcome to the United States.”
—An English language learner from Turkey.
Since January 2007, the American Library Association (ALA) has funded 100 libraries in 28 states through its American Dream Starts @ your library initiative. Each library received a onetime grant of $5,000 to add or improve literacy services to adult English language learners and their families.
The 100 American Dream libraries expanded ESL collections, taught classes, hosted conversation circles, trained tutors, increased computer access, build community partnerships, and raised the library’s visibility.Dollar General Literacy Foundation.