ROCKLAND — A Sandy River Charitable Foundation grant will provide funding for two Maine libraries in the Northeastern Maine Library District to join the national network of Family Place Libraries. Rockland Public Library and the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle each will receive $2,500 for materials, furnishings and equipment, plus staff training, and on-site visits and technical assistance by Family Place national staff during a three-year period. The anticipated target audience for the grants will be a diverse range of children birth to age 5 and their parents, including teen parents. Rockland’s Children’s Librarian Jean Young will attend the training in April. The program will be implemented shortly thereafter.
There are 300 Family Place Libraries in 22 states, including libraries in the Maine towns of Auburn, Biddeford, Kittery, North Berwick, Norway, Portland, Topsham, Waterville and Westbrook.
Expanding the role of traditional children’s library services, Family Place builds on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement and supportive communities play a critical role in young children’s growth and development. The project helps libraries develop into community destinations for early childhood information, parent education, emergent literacy, socialization and family support. The program also will offer families a place where they can meet, interact with other families with young children, learn from each other and lessen their isolation.
Family Place library staff engages parents and caregivers as first teachers and primary nurturers, enabling them to provide their children with the early literacy experiences necessary for later school success. Working collaboratively with others who provide services for families with young children, library staff ensure that all parents have access to the resources and experiences they need. According to Director Amy Levine and Jean Young, the Know and Grow program recently initiated by RSU 13 and Literacy Volunteers of Midcoast Maine, the children’s portion of which is offered at the Rockland Library, is a perfect example of the type of collaboration the library will continue to encourage.