Engaging Babies in the Library: Putting Theory into Practice

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Public libraries across the nation continue to transform themselves into learning centers for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. There are many resources available to help librarians create baby-friendly play spaces and enhanced storytimes, but until now there has been gap in the literature addressing the developmental needs and changing behaviors of babies and toddlers.  Parents and caregivers can also present unique service challenges. Focusing squarely on the how of providing quality library service to babies and families, Knoll's new book provides sensible, sensitive advice on meeting their physical, emotional, intellectual, and social needs. Geared towards helping public libraries foster healthy growth and development for their littlest patrons, this book:

  • explores multiple aspects in the developing life of a baby, discussing physical needs, emotional expressions, intellectual pursuits, and social development;
  • highlights real-life examples from public libraries that relate to how these developmental processes present themselves while babies and families interact in the library;
  • presents Baby Steps for each topical area, providing service tips and suggestions that can be easily or inexpensively put into practice;
  • offers Big Steps, conversational points that invite librarians to think creatively about further investment, support, funding, and collaborative efforts; and
  • includes carefully selected research findings and other information that can be used for planning, policymaking, and advocacy.

With Knoll's guidance, children‘s librarians will be informed and inspired to rise to the challenge of providing quality service to babies, toddlers, and care providers.

Foreword, by Virginia A. Walter


Chapter 1    Librarianship for Babies: From Problems to Potential
Chapter 2    Physical Needs: Attending to Babies and Families
Chapter 3    Emotional Expressions: The Unfolding Emotional Lives of Families
Chapter 4    Intellectual Pursuits: Learning for Babies and Families
Chapter 5    Social Development: Communing with Babies and Families
Chapter 6    The Potential of Librarianship for Babies and Families

Appendix    IFLA Guidelines for Library Services to Babies and Toddlers


Debra J. Knoll

Debra J. Knoll is a former children's librarian and academic instructor. Her research has focused on the development of infants and toddlers and its implications for children's librarianship.

"Knoll has produced a volume full of ideas for enhancing the comfort of caregivers and offering learning opportunities for the tiniest library users ...A must-read for librarians and administrators who advocate for early literacy."
— School Library Journal

"Libraries are evolving in their interest and action regarding providing pre- and early literacy services to the library community. Historically, these patrons were not necessarily welcomed in the library. Now, libraries are shifting to the idea of providing learning environments for our youngest users. To embrace this, libraries must reevaluate library philosophy, space, and service … This is a meaningful resource for libraries that are looking to increase meaningful service to infants and toddlers."
— Booklist

”Knoll gives detailed examples of how a baby benefits from having a safe, public space in which to play, move, and explore; access to books and early literacy experiences; and opportunities to cultivate oral language and community connections with a trained and caring staff."
— Public Libraries