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The Family Place Libraries initiative began in 1996 when former library advocacy organization, Libraries for the Future (LFF) was searching the nation for a model parent program in a public library. A visit to Middle Country Public Library (MCPL) and the Parent/Child Workshop sparked this collaborative project.
Working together, LFF and MCPL refined the workshop’s principles and developed a framework for a replicable model to show all libraries a new way to look at children’s services. The newly dubbed Family Place library kept the Parent-Child Workshop as its cornerstone, but built a structure around it comprised of key core elements to expand the role of public libraries as community centers and key players in family and early childhood development, parent and community involvement and lifelong learning beginning at birth.
With a grant from the Hasbro Children’s Foundation in 1998, the initiative was launched at libraries in five communities. The first Family Place Training Institute, based upon a new interdisciplinary training curriculum, was offered in 1999. Since then, over 1,200 librarians from over 500 libraries in 31 states have attended the Training Institute and joined the national network of Family Place Libraries.