Family Place Libraries is a growing, nationwide consortium of libraries dedicated to providing families with young children the information and support they need to nurture happy, healthy children.
Building on the traditional role of children’s library services, Family Place Libraries create an environment that is welcoming and appropriate for children beginning at birth.
We offer special play spaces, parenting collections, trained staff and Grow with Me Workshops twice each year. In this way, the library connects parents with community resources and child development specialists, as well as programs and services offered at the library and within the community.
Family Place Libraries create a network to help ensure that all children enter school ready and able to learn.
The Family Place program traces its roots back to the 1970s at the Middle Country Public Library, in Centereach, N.Y. At the time, Sandy Feinberg was a children’s librarian there (she later became director at MCPL and retired in 2013). Feinberg says that upon returning to work from maternity leave—a period during which she says she felt isolated—she was compelled to do something at her library for parents of small children. Working with local community experts, she developed informal parent-child workshops and grew her library’s collection of children’s books, including parenting books. She honed the program, and eventually MCPL became a popular destination for kids and families.
In 1996, Libraries for the Future, a nonprofit organization devoted to library advocacy, teamed up with MCPL, adopting and refining Feinberg’s ideas for a program that could be established nationwide. After rolling out the program in five communities in 1998, the Family Place Libraries program has now been adopted in a total of 442 libraries in 29 states, partly fueled by a National Leadership Grant of $450,000 awarded to MCPL in 2012 by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS); the grant program has enabled MCPL to bring Family Place to a network of 28 libraries in eight states.
Read more about how the "Family Place" library program is transforming libraries.