Family Place Applications Now Available | Compendium

The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries, is accepting applications from public libraries to establish family place community centers for early childhood information, parent education, socialization, emergent literacy, and family support. Successful applicants will receive

  • training for the library director and children’s staff person,
  • reimbursement of up to $6,000 to purchase materials and
  • reimbursement of up to $800 to reimburse travel expenses to Long Island.

The materials purchased will be used to create an early childhood area in the children’s section, as well as, items to be used during the Parent/Child Workshops that are the signature program of Family Place libraries.  A portion of the funds can be used to create/update the parenting collection that must be housed in the children’s area.  Up to six libraries will be selected to participate through a competitive application process.

Applicants must be a state aided library with a full-time children’s librarian (32+ hours a week).  Successful applicants must commit to

  • sending the director and the lead children’s staff member to a three-day training institute at the Middle Country Library on Long Island, in either October or November of 2019.
  • Sustain the concept and programs for a minimum of five years
  • Continue to expend at least $500 annually to sustain the programs and materials (this includes money spent board and picture books)

Applications are due by 5 pm on April 30, 2019.
Selected libraries will be notified by July 1, 2019.

This program is funded through the Family Engagement Project, a federal Library Service and Technology Act (LSTA) grant,  as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.

The following are the questions that are on the application:

  • How many hours does the lead children’s staff member work per week?
  • Why is your library interested in becoming a Family Place Library?
  • Please describe how becoming a Family Place Library relates to fulfilling your current strategic plan.
  • What collections, services and programs does your library currently provide for families with children under five?

The application can be found at

Suggestion:  Type your answers requiring text as a Word document then cut and paste the word document into the text box.  You may not be able to see your entire answer.

The following page describes the Family Place Libraries concept

What is Family Place?

Family Place is a concept that expands the traditional role of public libraries into community centers for early childhood information, parent education, socialization, emergent literacy, and family support.  Although most public libraries serve children through story times and summer reading programs, they usually focus on “children” only and not the child as part of the family unit.  Parents/caregivers are a child’s first teachers; through this program we can support these adults.

The keystones of Family Place are

  • The Parent/Child Workshop,
  • Specially designed space,
  • Collections—board books, picture books, parenting materials
  • Trained staff.

A five-week series brings together toddlers and their parents (babies are welcome, too) in an informal, interactive setting with professionals from local agencies such as speech clinics, hospitals, county extension offices, universities, public schools and health departments.  The area used for these hour and a half sessions is filled with educational toys, developmentally appropriate activities, books, magazines and AV materials.  The sessions are facilitated by trained library staff member who greets families, introduces guests from the community and end the sessions with a simple circle game, song, or finger play.  The staff’s other role is to get to know the families and promote the library’s resources.

The term “specially designed space” may sounds intimidating, but it isn’t.  It doesn’t mean you need an addition or turn a meeting room into a space only for young families.  It does mean you need comfortable seating for adults in the children’s area and that there is a space devoted to families/caregivers and young children.  Family Place libraries around the country have been creative and set up fun items of interest to toddlers in this space such as an aquarium, a dollhouse, a Lego table, puzzles, a puppet stage, a wooden train, etc.  Many participating libraries also offer a computer/tablet loaded with early childhood software.

Library collections are of major importance to the program.  A good selection of board books, cloth books, picture books and music for young children is needed as is an up-to-date parent/teacher collection that includes books, magazines, audio, video, pamphlets and possibly access to electronic resources in the family space.

You can find additional information at

Expectations of successful Pennsylvania Family Place Library sites 

  1. Commit to sending two people (director and lead children’s staff person) to a three-day training institute at the Middle Country Library on Long Island in Fall 2019.
  1. Be willing to take a fresh, creative approach and reorganize the library to better serve families with young children.
  1. Create a family space that is a destination for families with young children where children and adults can read and play during library hours.  Have a program or community room where the Parent/Child Workshop can take place.
  1. Welcome and cultivate non-traditional library users.


Please contact Susan Pannebaker, Youth Services Advisor, with any questions (email is best).