Libraries to open centers with tips to aid parents

Grant of $277,000 helps stock 15 sites

January 26, 2001|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

In hopes of helping parents help themselves, Anne Arundel County Public Library will open Parenting Centers at each of its 15 branches this weekend.

The grand opening for the centers will take place at the Broadneck branch library at 1275 Green Holly Drive at 10 a.m. tomorrow, with a celebration featuring Maryland first lady Frances Hughes Glendening reading children's stories.

The Parenting Centers have been in the works for a year, thanks to a $277,000 grant from county and state agencies. They provide the libraries with children's books, videos, puppets and toys.

But the centers - open during regular library hours - will be more than a playroom for children, library officials said. They will offer books on child-rearing from birth to teen-age years, including tips for dealing with disabilities and special needs, and programs for parents and children.

Each center will have the same resources available, said library system spokeswoman Andrea D. Lewis.

"What we try to do in our system is provide a comprehensive approach in all of our branches," Lewis said. "We feel it is important to make [the resources] available to everyone."

County library officials say Anne Arundel's system is the first in the state to build parenting centers.

The grant funds are from the county's Local Management Board and the Maryland Office of Children, Youth and Families, and will be distributed over a five-year period.

More than half the money has been used to purchase materials, shelving and furniture for the Parenting Centers.

County libraries have felt a pinch in resources since 1992, when Anne Arundel voters approved a ballot measure to limit the growth in property tax revenue to 4.5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

The tax ceiling left the libraries woefully short of new materials, said Betty Morganstern, the county's information and outreach librarian.

"It's not that we didn't have some of these materials before. It's just that we didn't have a whole lot of new materials," Morganstern said. "Now, they're being brought in to one place."

The library is collaborating on the Parenting Centers project with Anne Arundel County Child Care Resources and Referral, the county community college's Child Care Training Institute and the Family Tree of Maryland, a nonprofit organization that focuses on strengthening families.

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