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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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We are on the cusp of an unprecedented transformation in education. There is an increasing understanding among families and educators that children and youth thrive when together with their classroom experiences they have opportunities to explore their interests outside of school. With this awareness comes the recognition that family engagement is no longer just about how families are involved in schools—it is much broader. Family engagement takes place anywhere, anytime children learn—through digital media and in afterschool programs, museums, and especially the library. 

Harvard Family Research Project and the Public Library Association have partnered to explore family engagement in children’s learning through public libraries with the project Libraries for the 21st Century: It’s a Family Thing. This issue of the FINE Newsletter highlights the results of this work so far. Taken together, the resources in this issue show that libraries are spaces where families can:

  • find training, resources, and support to meet their expressed needs;
  • acquire knowledge, mindsets, and confidence to support their child’s learning from early childhood through adolescence; and
  • connect with other families to build social networks.

This issue of the newsletter also draws attention to how family engagement in public libraries is a matter of equity. As the disparities between how children and youth from high- and low-income homes spend their out-of-school time continues to grow, libraries—free, trusted, safe, and welcoming places in virtually every community—can counterbalance these inequalities.

We invite you to share this issue with interested friends and colleagues. We also hope you’ll share with us your stories of family engagement in libraries.

IN MEMORIAM–Ethel Seiderman

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Ethel Seiderman, nationally recognized for her passion and dedication to social justice for children and families in need. Loved by all, Ethel was well known for founding the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center and for her leadership at the Parent Services Project. A true family engagement champion, Ethel was also known for her affiliation with the California Department of Education and Head Start. Ethel’s work serves as the model for many advocates in the field of family engagement and child care; her efforts in service of families and children are responsible for unparalleled partnerships between government agencies, social service providers, and parents. We at Harvard Family Research Project will forever be inspired by Ethel’s commitment to the field of family engagement and her dedication as a national champion for children in need.


photo of Felton Thomas, Jr.

Libraries Engaging Families: Reflections From the Public Library Association’s President
Public Library Association (PLA) president Felton Thomas Jr. writes about the importance of public libraries in engaging families, and how PLA and Harvard Family Research Project have begun a journey together to support libraries in this work.

HFRP Research & Resources

Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement

Public Libraries: A Vital Space for Family Engagement
Harvard Family Research Project and the Public Library Association call for libraries to join together with schools and community organizations to establish a system of family engagement that extends throughout a child’s life, supports children and families, and prepares children for success.

Tips & Tools

Family Engagement in Public Libraries Is Valued, but There Is Work to Be Done

Family Engagement in Public Libraries Is Valued, but There Is Work to Be Done
Ever wonder what libraries around the country are doing to engage families? Learn the answer to this question and others through HFRP and PLA’s national survey of family engagement in public libraries—– the results of which are presented here.

HFRP Interact

Web Conference: Beyond the Library as Classroom: Two-Generation and Family Learning

Web Conference: Beyond the Library as Classroom: Two-Generation and Family Learning
In this Web conference recording, HFRP adds context to a number of the key findings of its national survey of family engagement in public libraries by highlighting creative ways libraries open spaces and platforms for all families and for children of all ages.


Family Place Libraries logo

Family Place Libraries
Currently available in more than 450 libraries in 29 states, Family Place Libraries is a nationwide network of children’s librarians who provide rich, engaging opportunities in their library spaces for anytime, anywhere learning for very young children and their parents.

Family Involvement News

Family Involvement News: August 2016
Want to learn more about the role of libraries in transforming family engagement and children’s learning? Looking for family engagement research, resources, ideas, and conferences? Then check out the latest edition of our Family Involvement News.

The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit To subscribe to the FINE Newsletter, please visit our subscription center

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project