California State Library

The Project

In fall 2015, the California State Library (CSL) and its Early Learning with Families (ELF) initiative were looking to provide developmentally appropriate activities for children five and under that incorporated innovative STEM and arts programming. CSL engaged the Center for Childhood Creativity (CCC) to develop a resource guide and webinar to assist librarians in implementing child-directed curricula and pedagogy within their programs.

Our Approach

We held focus groups and conducted in-depth interviews with 16 expert children’s librarians from rural, suburban, and urban libraries across California, concentrating on needs, challenges, and opportunities related to early childhood library programming. We observed existing library programs and reviewed existing resources to assess what techniques and topics would be most helpful to librarians. Finally, we developed a set of research-backed activities for librarians to review and select for inclusion in the resource document.


Following focus groups and interviews, we produced a digital resource guide for CSL which includes: a research-based framework for developing creativity skills in children ages 0-8, facilitation tips, strategies for group management, and a curated collection of activities for library visitors. Upon publication of the guide, the CCC team presented a webinar about early learning and creativity for librarians. The webinar welcomed 150 live attendees.

Participating librarians have since used CCC’s activities and strategies to create drop-in educational program, summer reading events, and camp curricula.

  • The digital resource guide has been read over 2,500 times since launched on our website
  • CCC staff have since been invited to speak at 15 library events, trainings, and conferences throughout the country reaching over 1,000 librarians
  • This partnership led to additional statewide library projects, to use our expertise to improve library systems’ Summer Reading programs and School Readiness initiatives


“The research as to why play, and open-ended play, was hugely helpful. It allowed me to re-frame how I construct programs.”
–California librarian

“This was the most engaging webinar I’ve e-ttended all year!”
–California librarian

“I found it motivational to continue our Library’s quest to be a place for experiential learning.”
–California librarian

“It was a wonderful webinar. All fascinating. I especially liked the creativity prompts: I wonder… I notice… Tell me more…!”
–California librarian