Adult Literacy

The connection of public librarians to the adult literacy movement became formalized with the American Library Association's establishment of the Commission on the Library and Adult Education in 1924. That same year William S. Learned’s report to the Carnegie Corporation, The American Public Library and the Diffusion of Knowledge was published. See the essay Rocks in the Whirlpool for more details. It's a long story, but the connection to adult literacy through the American Library Association has dwindled from the high point of an Adult Services Division within the Association (1955-1972) to hit and miss commitment today. The best way for librarians who care about adult literacy to stay connected is through active participation in the Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy.
The Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (
CAAL) views adult education and literacy as an essential component of the American educational system. We are dedicated to strengthening adult literacy in the public conscience and working to build it into a respected, established service system for the good of America and all Americans. From a broad, systemic perspective, CAAL addresses issues large and small. We take on complex and sometimes thorny topics that would be difficult, if not impossible, for others to address. Our work takes the form of studies and analyses, interview-based think pieces, symposia, and special projects -- all intended to help promote effective policy and resource development, program improvement, and communications. The results are disseminated through publications and meetings.