Parenting is one important job a person could do.

It is often referred to as the most rewarding job, but it can also be lonely, difficult and overwhelming at times.

Parents and children need activities that are educational, engaging, and fun.

Many families find that their local library can meet many of their needs. This is especially true for libraries that are part of the Family Place Libraries network of 450 libraries across the country. These libraries offer interactive play areas, programs, parent groups and resources.

Family Place Libraries is a national network of children’s library staff who believe that literacy begins at birth. They also believe libraries can help create healthy communities by feeding healthy families.

“The Family Place Libraries initiative is transforming how libraries work with young children and their families — from the librarians themselves, to the parents, to early childhood specialists,”Kathy Deerr is the National Coordinator Family Place Libraries. “And it is transforming entire libraries.”

In 2012, Middle Country Public Library was awarded a National Leadership Grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This grant enabled the establishment to create Family Place Libraries. The grant was intended to examine the model in order to bring about institutional change related to early childhood support and family support in public libraries.

A three-year evaluation of this grant by Nagle & Associates, a full-service national consulting firm, supports Deerr’s statement.

This study was conducted in 28 libraries that use the Family Place Libraries model. Positive changes were observed in the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of children’s librarians; attitudes towards children’s service; and attitudes toward them. Positive changes were also observed in the perceptions of library services by parents.

“Parents who made connections to their local libraries came to deeply appreciate and use the library as part of their support network,”According to the evaluation.

“The Family Place Libraries changed how librarians view their role,”Deerr states. “They are really early childhood and parent supporters. These libraries are more interactive and meet family needs of playful early learning, parent engagement and connecting to resources.”

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