The James V. Brown Library has once again been recognized with a Carolyne L. Smith Best Practices in Early Learning Award by the Pennsylvania Library Association.
The award was for the Baby Café program, which is a partnership with Susquehanna Health to provide a safe and child-friendly environment for pregnant, breastfeeding moms and their support person. Participants can meet other breastfeeding moms and receive up-to-date information about breastfeeding. Baby Café is a service to support nursing moms run by a healthcare professional and can help with every aspect of breastfeeding.
The award will be presented during a luncheon and awards ceremony on Sept. 28 at the Lancaster County Convention Center at Marriott. This statewide educational symposium is attended by several hundred librarians, advocates and policymakers. The Best Practices Award celebrates public library programs that are especially creative, innovative and effective in serving young children, their families and caregivers.
“We wanted to bring Baby Cafe to the library and partner with Susquehanna Health to have a stronger reach and breadth with advocating all the health benefits for babies’ development,” said Nina White, youth services coordinator at the library. “It is a perfect complement to offer after baby story time for new mothers to attend both programs and gain a sense of parental and community support at the library.”
Baby Café meets every other Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Red Program Room on the first floor of the Welch Family Wing. This is one of the many ways Pennsylvania Public Libraries support the PA Forward Initiative through providing health literacy opportunities for learning. Baby Café builds a family’s well-being to empower them to live longer, more productive lives.
“Hosting Baby Cafe becomes an introduction to the library that many new mothers might not have found otherwise,” White said. “It is a mutually strong partnership for healthy babies and moms, child development and early literacy.”
White added that the program was originally offered once a month but has grown to be offered every other week. Natalie McCullen, lactation consultant at Susquehanna Health, is the facilitating partner.
“It’s a great privilege to partner with the library through the Baby Café. The Baby Cafe group is dedicated to providing ongoing information and support for moms and babies through their breastfeeding journey,” said McCullen. “Many new moms have questions and sometimes challenges starting out with breastfeeding, and this is a great way for our health system to provide ongoing support and assistance as well as promote the mother to mother support that is so important. The Baby Café at the library allows moms to be out in the community networking with other moms as well as taking part in the wonderful programs the library offers.”
Christina Furister, participating mom, agrees: “I love being able to socialize with the other moms. The fact that a lactation consultant is here is helpful because it ensures that any areas Stella and I are struggling with, I can bring to her attention and she’s able to offer me feedback to work through it. And it seems each mom always has something to offer. It’s just a really great hour.”