Scarborough library earns 'Family Place' certification

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SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Public Library will soon join a group of about 15 libraries across Maine that are certified Family Place Libraries.

Librarians in Scarborough have been seeking the certification since 2008, when they first submitted an application to the national organization for accreditation. 

The first informal model began at Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, New York, in 1979 and was given its official title in 1996.

The Family Place model is designed to spur cognitive development in children under the age of 3 with the help of their parents. Designated libraries provide a venue for parent-child workshops, as well as offering resources to facilitate early learning with books, toys and plenty of community space.

The Scarborough Public Library recently received $2,500 in grant funding from the organization to help launch the program. It will host five workshops, from March 10 through April 7. 

“There are a lot of little bits that have to be set up before you’re actually given the designation,” said Louise Capizzo, the library’s youth services manager. “Making sure we have toys that were geared for younger children, and to create a space in the library where there is comfortable seating.”

Part of the ongoing renovation in the Youth Room at the library is being done, in part, for Family Place Libraries, to “really create a more centered area where the families can sit,” Capizzo said Tuesday. 

“What we are doing is expanding the traditional role of children services,” she said. “We build on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement and support of communities plays a crucial role in young childrens’ development.”

Because the program is aimed at children before they go to nursery school and pre-kindergarten, it is intentionally unstructured, with an emphasis on play.

“Open-ended play is crucial for children’s development,” Capizzo said.

“As more and more information is developed about how kids grow and learn, they have discovered that up to age 3 is the most crucial time to introduce language,” she said. “This initiative supports that by offering toys, books and a welcoming atmosphere.”

For a schedule of the workshops, visit the calendar on the library website.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

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Scarborough library to close for a day

SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Public Library will be closed for renovations on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

Work will take place in the Youth Room and staff workroom, which will make conditions hazardous to the public, according to a press release. The library’s computer systems will also not be functioning.

Story times will not take place from Feb. 23-27, and will resume March 3. 

For more information, call 883-4723, or visit scarboroughlibrary.org.

Youth Programs Manager Louise Capizzo stands in the youth section of the Scarborough Public Library. The section will undergo renovations in late Feb. to help tailor to its Family Place Libraries certification, which will provide a community space and resources for parents and books and toys for children 3 and younger. Capizzo has spearheaded the certification process for the last two years. 

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.