The Play and Grow Pennsylvania Libraries initiative was designed to expand and support our small and rural libraries and librarians in serving the families in their communities. This program builds on the knowledge that early learning, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in a young person’s growth and development. The program empowers participants with knowledge in early childhood brain development, mindfulness and social emotional learning, and developing programming and engaging environments for children ages 0-5 and their caregivers, and collection development aligned to developmental milestones and early literacy skills. The program was first offered in 2019 and early childhood curated resources and professional development were provided to participating libraries to assist staff in strengthening their understanding of these areas. Prior to launching this initiative, a needs assessment was administered to the 18 participating libraries to determine the strengths and needs of participants in their libraries.

The program was offered again in 2023 with 18 libraries participating, and we plan to add 18 additional libraries in early 2024.