Demco is an online/catalog shop for library supplies and furniture. They’ve got everything. Today when I was looking at their website for some images to inspire me, I came across a webinar they produced looking at the overhaul of a library kids’ space. I was a little skeptical – a little afraid it would just be an hour-long commercial for Demco products – but actually there was some useful information here, which I am capturing for this blog post.
Play is unstructured – kids decide what to do with the materials they have in front of them. It builds brain pathways and creates a developmental foundation for future learning. It can help create cooperation, empathy, negotiation, learning through trial and error.
Why should we promote play in the library? It’s part of the library’s mission of promoting achievement and learning in children – empowering kids to learn in all realms. It provides an opportunity to create community connections.
Barrington Library update…
This update went on in 2013-2014 and renovated all the library’s public space with an $8.5 million budget – but let’s look for opportunities to do this on the smaller scale!
The library update draws from the idea of multiple intelligences, the idea that we can encourage learning and play in multiple domains:
And here are some of the goals of the project – a screenshot from the webinar itself.
The webinar team also provided some details about using the space to deal with traffic flow, noise, and other factors – they observed that this created some additional work and focus for staff as well, just in terms of organizing and cleaning and maintaining the space (and even designated a staff person as “Play Coordinator”!). They talked about some of the feedback they received on the project, both positive and negative.
And they talked about metrics for evaluating the amount of time children spent interacting with the items they chose for their space. Measuring success was a useful part of this webinar. Here’s a screenshot of some of their evaluation of the program:
Included items in the updated play space:
- Pretend marketplace
- Foam blocks for building
- A big slide!
Other programs that they created along with their space updates:
- Process art (drop-in, all ages) – explore various mediums and sensory elements
- Family fort building (child + caregiver) – positive shared experience
There were so many good ideas in this presentation! The fact is that most of us are not undergoing an $8 million dollar renovation to our spaces. Most of us are going to cobble together a few thousand dollars here and there to do updates and programs in our libraries. That’s fine – just imagine the possibilities where we are right now!
Picture how we could take a basic space and add some interactive elements to it, maybe some comfortable seating for Mom or Dad – promote it a little – use some easily acquired supplies to invite families to participate in some interactive programs – and grow it from there.
This was a super interesting and useful webinar for thinking about spaces and programs in my own libraries. I recommend it!