Six Public Libraries Selected for Nationwide Pilot of Innovative Education and Workforce Development Practices for Adults

September 29, 2020

Providence Public Library, in partnership with Chicago and Los Angeles Public Libraries, World Education and a team of advisors will provide support for implementing the use of Learning Circles, Learning Lounges and Mobile Learning

Providence Public Library (PPL), with National Leadership funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), is pleased to announce that six public libraries have been selected as pilot sites for the Propagating Promising Practices (P3) for Literacy and Workforce Development at Libraries project:

  • Riverside County Library System, Jurupa Valley, CA
  • DC Public Library, Washington, DC
  • Prince William Public Library System, Prince William, VA
  • Fuller Public Library, Hillsborough, NH
  • St. Louis County Library, St Louis, MO
  • San Luis Obispo Public Libraries, San Luis Obispo, CA

P3 positions public libraries as effective and welcoming hubs for lifelong learning, digital inclusion, and economic empowerment. “Public libraries have vast potential to increase the educational and workforce development opportunities for adults with limited academic or work readiness skills. The goal of the P3 project is to expand technology-enabled practices to support adults in building their literacy, English language, and workforce skills and knowledge,” said Sherry Lehane, Training Specialist, PPL.

This three-year project has unfolded in two phases. In phase 1 (2018 – 2020), Providence, Chicago and Los Angeles Public Libraries committed to implementing and growing one of the three practices (Learning Lounges, Learning Circles, Mobile Learning) that was new to their library system. In the second phase of this project, 2020-2021, the six pilot libraries will be trained and supported in implementing one of the three practices. The goal of this phase is to learn how these practices can be successful in small, large, rural and urban communities. The project website is:

Learning circles were developed by Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) to increase access to educational opportunities. Learning circles are a flexible model of group learning in which people meet regularly to work on an online course together and in person. They build a sense of community that supports individuals who might otherwise be intimidated by learning on a computer. This peer learning experience can prepare adults for independent online learning and serve as an on-ramp to more traditional adult educational opportunities. Similar to a book club, a small group meets for 1.5–2 hours a week for six to twelve weeks, in a library or other community space. Currently, learning circles are virtual.

Learning Lounges were started by Providence Public Library in 2014 as part of a collaborative project aimed at increasing access and support for adults seeking education or employment opportunities. A Learning Lounge is a space within a library dedicated to providing adults with ‘just-in-time’ access to high-quality technology-enabled resources in welcoming, staffed, community environments to meet their education and employment needs. Since March of 2020, Learning Lounge services have been delivered remotely. The following are some of the things that Learning Lounges help adults do:

  • access digital and community resources to increase their literacy and numeracy skills
  • complete online employment and college applications
  • create resumes
  • learn and practice English
  • build technology and career readiness skills

Mobile learning is the use of digital learning resources that are designed for cell phones, smartphones, and tablets. Learning with mobile devices can increase access to education by reducing the barriers of time, place, and access to technology. Learning resources that can be used in mobile learning include:

  • videos
  • learning apps
  • online courses
  • audio files such as podcasts
  • curated resources

Mobile learning can provide an onramp to employment and career advancement for adults by offering access to basic skills instruction, vocational training, and even career coaching. Content can be personalized to the interests and skill level of the learner.

About Providence Public Library
PPL is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1875, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily through private funding sources, including its own PPL Foundation. The Library’s mission is to inspire Rhode Islanders to be lifelong learners by engaging their curiosity and offering access to extraordinary experiences, resources, and ideas. PPL’s programs help to democratize education and opportunity, especially for those who are oppressed from opportunity. PPL strives to connect learners to resources, to new, in-demand skill sets, to jobs, and to each other.

This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (LG-95-18-0014-18).