Bee Cave librarian: Helping families our proud mission

February is Love Your Library Month, and there’s lots to love at the Bee Cave Public Library. In addition to a collection of books, audiobooks, graphic novels, manga and more in print and digital formats, the library offers programs year-round for a variety of ages and interests. All of this is part of our mission to promote lifelong learning and foster a sense of community.

The library has been accredited as a Family Place Library since 2017, which means our librarians have undergone extensive training in the critical role libraries can play in a young child’s growth and development. The goal of the Family Place Libraries program is to encourage libraries to be a family-friendly environment and transform them into community centers for literacy, early childhood development, parent education and engagement, family support and community information.

In addition to the week-long training that our public services librarians have undergone, we offer print and digital collections of parenting resources and offer a special workshop called 1*2*3 PlaySmart for toddlers and their parents or caregivers to connect them with community resources and reinforce the importance of “learning through play” for children. The workshop is hands-on for toddlers and their parents who are encouraged to follow their child’s lead as to where and how they want to play. The room is laid out with interactive toys ranging from musical instruments to sensory bins to cars and trucks. A play kitchen is always popular, along with dress-up clothes, blocks and riding toys. The workshop is particularly helpful for first-time parents to reinforce their role as their child’s first teacher. Each week a different resource specialist is available during the program to discuss topics like early literacy, nutrition, speech and language development with the parents in a casual, one-on-one setting.

In a testament to the power of libraries creating a sense of community through programs, a patron shared a wonderful anecdote recently with our youth services librarian, Melissa Burke. One of the moms attending this month’s session of 1*2*3 PlaySmart with her second child shared the story of attending the workshop in 2020 with her first child, right before the pandemic caused the library and the rest of the world to shut down. She described how eight families who met for the first time at the library’s Family Place workshop formed a “pod” that got them through the whole pandemic together. The families are still in touch to this day, and her daughter is still best friends with one of the children from that group.

“What a great example of us fulfilling one of our missions to be a place of connection and community-building,” Burke said. “It serves to remind us that we don’t always know where or how the seeds we plant will bloom.”

The next session of 1*2*3 PlaySmart will take place in the fall and be open to toddlers ages 18 months to 3 years. Space is limited and participants must register their interest in the program at the library. More information on the program will be available in August.

A final component of the Family Place Library program includes encouraging the “learn through play” philosophy year-round in the library with age-appropriate toys and opportunities for imaginative play. In our current location, a corner of the children’s section is devoted to a rotating series of play stations ranging from a pretend ice cream shop or pizza restaurant to a veterinary office complete with toy stethoscopes and bandages for the stuffed animals. We plan to include and expand this type of play area in the design of our new library, which is slated to open in 2026.

Our regular lineup of programs continues at the library in February with storytimes for babies through toddlers, Teen Advisory Board for high school students, book club for adults and a special CPR Class for students in grades 3-7. For information about these and other programs, visit the library website at or call us at 512.767.6620.