T3 – Notes From the Field: 2024 Texas Family Place Libraries™ Training Institute

Round Rock, the “Sports Capital of Texas,” is located just fifteen miles north of Austin. In addition to a full line-up of exceptional sports facilities, the city champions specialty retail shopping, delicious restaurants, outdoor adventures, and the Round Rock Public Library System (RRPL).  

Established in 1962, RRPL is a gateway to the community that knocks it out of the park with a variety of award-winning programs and services including a certified Family Place Library program. RRPL, in its new home field in downtown Round Rock, hosted the 2024 Texas Family Place Libraries™ Project Training Institute, sponsored by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) and Family Place Libraries. Thirty-one library workers from across the state took the field for spring training to learn the signals, see what’s on deck, and understand Why They Rock.

Decorative picture of Round Rock Public Library's sign. Sign is  6-fout letters that spell RRPL.

TSLAC initiated the Family Place Libraries™ Project in 2015 to help public libraries promote early learning and ensure that all children enter school ready and able to learn by supporting families in guiding their children’s learning. This project funds tuition for staff from participating Texas libraries to attend the training institute, where they learn the core elements of the Family Place Libraries™ model and receive assistance with developing and maintaining a Family Place Library at their facility. Participating libraries can also expect three years of follow-up support following the training. Tuition for the institute and support are provided through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Moreover, TSLAC provides each attendee a travel stipend to offset the expense of traveling within Texas to attend. Finally, after attending the Institute, participants are eligible for an additional grant to assist with the development of their library’s program.

Decorative. Combined logos for Family Place Libraries and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Having warmed up with the newest grant recipients and reinforced my understanding of yet one more way that libraries can serve as community hubs, here’s a quick box score of the moments that resonated with me:

Day 1 – Welcome
Fresh from travel, we gathered for dinner Monday evening and learned about the importance of family centered public libraries in the opening session. As we focused on the need for families with young children to use our libraries as early childhood and family resource centers, a palpable excitement buzzed through the assembly. Recognizing that each one of our libraries can be key institutions and community partners that serve the early education information needs of families with young children, we were primed for the next three days!
Day 2 – Presentation and Demonstration
We perused the children’s programming space, noting its welcoming environment, developmentally appropriate toys, and helpful signage! Furthermore, its toys included a kitchen dramatic play setting, puppets, manipulatives, and blocks as well as music, infant, and gross motor toys.  As a follow-up, we observed a parent-child workshop in action giving us a context for what was to come.
Day 3 – Guest Speaker and Programming
This was the highlight of the institute! The day began with a local expert featured as our guest speaker; Jai Certified Parent Coach Jhenisse Moreno from the Healed Inheritance Project taught us about child and brain development, executive function, and parent education within the context of helping parents feel grounded and supported in order to parent with intention and purpose so they can be the parents they want to be.

During a break, we were able to join a Bubbles and Music program outside in the 2nd Floor Discovery Garden—basking in the joy of library’s littlest patrons and their caregivers as they relaxed, played, and danced together. And, then finished the day with a tour of the children’s space.
Day 4 – Marketing and Public Relations
Having seen the goal manifest, we spent our final hours together exploring ideas for marketing these services to our various stakeholders, crafting targeted pitches, and practicing our approaches in a safe space. After communing one last time and decompressing over lunch, we bid each other adieu and set out for our respective homes.
Decorative scrolling pictures of events from the training
2024 Texas Family Place Training Institute Highlights Reel

After 2.5 years, the beginning of December marked my last day as TSLAC’s Youth Services Consultant and the beginning of my journey as the library’s new Library Management Consultant. In light of this new opportunity, I wasn’t sure if I’d be the one to attend the 2024 institute and sorely felt the want of that. I wanted to graciously close this chapter of my tenure as the team manager while still leaving room for my successor to have a full experience. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do both—witnessing the launch of the largest group of recruits in a single year since 2017. Due in no small part to the second year of in-state training’s continued reduction of barriers to participation while fostering the camaraderie that defines training camp, the project currently boasts nearly 120 grantees. 

Thank you to the host city of Round Rock, Texas; our host library RRPL: our curriculum partner Family Place Libraries™, and all who attended this year’s training! I could not have asked for better walk-out music. 


Questions?

For more information, visit our youth services page or email Youth Services at ld@tsl.texas.gov.

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