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“Early literacy has gotten increasing attention, which is really important because it points out the role public libraries play in helping children get ready for success in school,” said Mary Fellows, president of the Association of Library Service to Children. “Public libraries in many communities are the only game in town for these children.”
But the move comes as libraries budgets are being slashed, and the programs — deemed by some librarians as the most important work they can do, especially in disadvantaged communities — are limited.
In the District, for example, where the library budget has been slashed so much that last year the system considered closing its main facility on Sundays, branches drastically cut back the number of visits to day-care centers and classrooms, from 2,444 in fiscal 2010 to 1,100 last year, according to a spokesman.