<p><i>* In development</i></p>
The Tyler Public Library became a Family Place Library in 2017 to better serve the young children and their parents and caregivers in our community. Becoming a Family Place Library has brought many wonderful changes to our library through the introduction and restructuring of programs and services that foster early learning and support parents as their child’s first teacher.
One important change is the addition of Parent-Child Workshops. At the time TPL became a Family Place Library, the only programs offered for young children and their families were weekly story times. The library now holds two workshops series each year that have proved to be great programs for families and children to connect with each other, other families, and resource professionals and agencies in our community.
The PCW series have also brought about great changes. They have helped the library reach out and meet under-served members in our community. While initial workshop series included many regular library families as attendees, more recent PCW series have reached out to new families in our community, many of whom have had no prior engagement with the library. These workshop series have also enabled the library to form new relationships with community agencies and strengthen existing partnerships. To continue reaching out to the families in our community, our library is currently developing a bilingual PCW series that includes bilingual resource professionals, library staff, and resources to better meet the needs of Spanish-speaking families in our area.
Playroom Cottage and New Toys:
Nicknamed “The Cottage,” our library’s playroom underwent significant changes to become a welcoming area for children and families to play, read, learn, and enjoy together. This included the purchase of many new toys and playsets geared for infants through preschoolers that encourage learning through play. The Cottage’s doors are open full-time during regular library hours Monday to Friday and on weekends. This area has become a popular place for children to visit and for library families to gather and have fun. One group that gets great use of the playroom is families who attend morning story times and, afterwards, regularly visit the Cottage to play together, visit, and form friendships.
In addition to the Cottage, new toys were purchased for use in our library PCWs. In addition to being used during workshop sessions, these toys are regularly used at the end of all our story times during a short playtime for children and parents. These toys support a variety of learning areas, including puzzles that support problem solving, transportation toys that help build fine motor skills, and play food, puppets, and kitchenware that support dramatic play, foster imagination, and teach children about their world. Many times library staff have been asked by parents and caregivers where a certain toy was purchased or have been asked for advice on other toys or playtime activities to incorporate at home.
Lastly, becoming a Family Place Library has also impacted other programming by inspiring library staff to assess the core programming offered year-round to young children and their families. Since 2017, library story times have grown from a story time geared for infants and toddlers, a story time geared for preschoolers, and a bilingual story time for all ages to include an infant only story time and two toddler story times. In March 2020, the library will also begin offering sensory-friendly story times to young children through a partnership with a local agency. This new story time addition is to help meet the need identified by our library following a series of special needs forums during which the library held open discussions with individuals and families of individuals with special needs.
In close, the programs and services the library now offers for young children and their families have become special features of our library that foster early learning, support learning through play, and encourage family interaction.