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Family Place

Family Place LogoConway Public Library becomes the first Family Place Library in New Hampshire

Thanks to generous funding from the Kendal C. and Anna Ham Charitable Foundation, the Conway Public Library is now the first Family Place Library in New Hampshire.  Expanding the traditional role of children's services beyond story times, Family Place Libraries build on the knowledge that early learning, good health, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in young children's growth and development. Through the Family Place program, the Conway Public Library will provide comprehensive, community-based early childhood education and family support for children one to three years of age. 

Written by Janis Minshull, Conway Public Library Youth Services Librarian, and Tara Thomas, Conway Public Library Director, the Ham Charitable Foundation awarded the Friends of the Conway Public Library the $19,000 grant to implement the program earlier this year.  Minshull and Thomas attended training to learn best practices for implementing the program at the Family Place Training Institute located at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, New York in late fall.

According to Thomas, "Our goal in becoming a Family Place Library is to help and support parents and caregivers in their role as their child's first teacher.  We are thrilled that the Ham Charitable Foundation gave a green light to our grant request and we are ecstatic to be bringing people together to build our community's future." 

With more than 300 sites nationwide in twenty-three states, the principle behind the Family Place network of libraries is for the library and the community to partner in an order to connect parents with the resources and services they need during the first years of their child's development.  As a Family Place Library, the Conway Public Library will be a center for early childhood information, parent education, emergent literacy, socialization, and family support for the Mt. Washington Valley.  In order to achieve this, the Conway Public Library will partner with a number of community organizations including Children Unlimited and the White Mountain Community Health Center.  Other organizations interested in being a part of the Family Place program should contact the Library via phone (603-447-5552) or email (

The hallmark of the Family Place program is a five week series of workshops that brings together toddlers and their parents in an  informal early childhood setting filled with toys, art activities, and books while encouraging parents to play with their children and meet other parents and caregivers.  Professionals from the health and human service organizations will move casually around the room and chat informally with participants and answer child rearing questions.  The workshops, titled Play to Learn, Learn to Play, will be held at the Conway Public Library on Mondays beginning March 5, 2012 and will run to April 2, 2012.  They will be offered again in the fall of 2012.  All parents and caregivers interested in participating in the program should contact the Library via phone (603-447-5552) or email us at

As a part of the Family Place program, the Conway Public Library also will reconfigure its children's room to offer a welcoming designed space for families of young children and expand its collection of books, toys, music and multimedia materials for babies, toddlers, parents, and service providers.  All expenses to implement the program will be funded through the grant.