It is energizing to be a part of the national Family Place Library network. The framework for programs, collections, and space has impacted families of very young children in our community in a positive way. From providing a solid framework for vetted early literacy programs and collections that staff can use without having to re-invent the wheel to allowing us to foster relationships beyond interaction in standard story time programs with community members who attend, Family Place has allowed us to build a more well-rounded youth services department so that we can be a better community resource for families of very young children.
It was an exciting project to move parenting books in our adult nonfiction collection into our youth wing space, which required a re-organization of all the collections in the children’s space to create room for those parenting books. This was worth moving all those books when a patron commented about how smart it was to have parenting books in the youth wing space! Now we are working on way to promote the parenting collection make it more relevant to our patrons and increase its circulation.
Library staff also loved the Parent/Child workshop program. One staff commented about how her daughter would have loved to have been a participant when she was that age, and another staff member who recently became a parent registered and participated in the workshop themselves. Library staff helping to facilitate Family Place Library programs commented about how they love the informal nature of the programs because there is a chance to talk with the families participating and get to know them more on a personal level.
Parents of very young children attending our Baby Time program (a drop-in, play-based program happening weekly with Parent/ Child workshop toys) love how they don’t have to show up at a very specific time and feel like they’re being rude for coming in a few minutes late because it, understandably, took longer to get out of the door that morning with their very young child. The informal nature of the programs Family Place has designed and fostered are a hit in our community.
Not to mention the toy recommendations! What our staff also love is that the toys tested and suggested by Family Place are high quality and appropriate for very young children. We love being able to provide access to these high-quality toys to those folks in our community who need them the most and wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to use them if we weren’t able to provide them at the library. Toys accessible on the public floor during library open hours are one of the most popular aspects of the library’s children’s space. It feels good to be assured of the developmental appropriateness of the toys for the age-group that is playing with them. The tunnel and the puppy rider are a hit!
As we continue to provide the Parent/ Child workshop (that we call “1,2,3, Play with Me!”), we notice that the families who sign up and participate in that program are more likely to attend our other early literacy programming! For example, a few of the families who were enrolled in the Parent/ Child workshop ended up attending the preschool music performance we hosted at Jackson’s Center for the Arts. The Family Place Parent/ Child workshop is a great introduction to the library for families and it’s impact shows when we continuously see these families attending out other early literacy programming.
Being a Family Place library has had a positive impact on our Staff and families in our community who have participated in related programs. We are excited to keep building our resources and connections!