[HOUSTON, TX. June 27, 2023] – On Tuesday, Harris County Public Library’s South Houston Branch Library welcomed patrons and community leaders into its newest Family Place Library™, a specially designed space within the library designed to promote early childhood learning and parental education and involvement.
The South Houston Branch’s Family Place Library™ was made possible through generous support from community partner, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, and a grant from the PNC Foundation.
“We are so grateful to our partners for making this day possible,” says Clara Lopez, longtime Branch Manager at the South Houston branch, “We are excited to be able to offer our patrons a welcoming, family-friendly environment where both parents/caregivers and young children can spend time playing and learning together at the library.
A Needed Resource for the Community
The community that the South Houston branch serves is strongly blue-collar and low-income with over 20% of the population living below the poverty level compared to under 10% nationwide and under 4% for the greater Houston area. Similarly, educational attainment is below the national average in South Houston. Less than 10% of adults in South Houston have earned a college degree compared to over 20% for the country as a whole. According to the 2020 census, over 70% of South Houston households speak languages other than English at home.
HCPL and its partners believe that the Family Place Library™ at South Houston will be an anchor service that will draw more families into the branch and allow them to discover other services and resources they can use to learn new skills and achieve life goals.
“I believe our patrons will be most excited about having a fun and attractive place for them to enjoy together as a family,” says Lopez, “The Family Place adds to all the existing amazing services and programs that currently happen at the library.”
Part of Harris County Public Library’s mission is to bridge the educational resource gap that many low-income communities experience. The Family Place™ learning is one element among many in the free learning resources it offers. “HCPL is a library for all. Yes, that means for all people from all walks of life, but also in all stages of life,” says Linda Stevens, Division Director of Programs Partnerships and Outreach for HCPL. “We offer ESL (English Learning) classes, citizenship classes, and computer classes. We offer Career Online High School so adults can earn their diplomas at their own pace to fit their busy schedules. South Houston’s Family Place is yet another resource that will strengthen the community and improve lives.”
About Family Place Libraries
Family Place for Libraries provides a comprehensive and proven suite of services and materials to member libraries across the country including in-depth training for library staff, parent-child workshops, specially designed spaces, and curated collections of books, toys, early literacy kits, music, and multimedia materials for babies, toddlers, parents, caregivers, and service providers.
Family Place builds on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in a young child’s growth and development. The overall goal of Family Place Libraries is to develop and institutionalize a family-friendly environment by transforming libraries into community centers for literacy, early childhood development, parent education and engagement, family support, and community information.
A Partnership with Strong Commitment to Early Childhood Development
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development through PNC Grow Up Great®, its signature cause, that began in 2004.
Family Place Libraries™ are a crucial element of HCPL’s Growing Readers early literacy initiative It is designed for children from birth to preschool age and their caregivers. Growing Readers helps children form the skills they need to become strong readers and learners. It makes fun and games the building blocks of early literacy and lifelong learning.
HCPL is committed to putting Family Place™ Libraries in all of its 26 branches and it is well on the way to doing so. With the addition of the South Houston branch, HCPL has 15 Family Place™ libraries and another six will open by the end of 2023 at Atascocita, Crosby, Fairbanks, Kingwood, Lone Star College-Cyfair, and West University.
CW39 Interview with HCPL's Youth Literacy Coordinator Anjela Martinez
CW39 Article: “Family Place Library” brings kids and families together in Harris County to expand learning by Sharron Melton