Monday, June 28, 2010

Designing Libraries for The Little Ones

Any conversation about designing a space for kids and teens ultimately leads to a conversation on your 'library philosophy.  Last summer, as members of the board, Brad Fish, Emily Salsberry and some volunteers and I all sat around to plan the renovation for the children's room at the Carnegie Library of Homestead, we spent a good bit of time discussing more philosophical issues vs. spatial issues.  That came later.  In the April 2010 issue of American Libraries, there's a great article about this very topic: Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Spaces: How to Carve out a Niche that Epitomizes Service

Some of the most important issues this article covers:
  • How will the space reflect the community?
  • How are children, teens and caregivers using the library now?
  • How could the space inspire using the library differently?
  • What does the library want to mean to children, teens and care-givers?
  • *** Is library staff willing to support changes in service that the space will require?
What the article doesn't really address however, is that last point.  I've been in a number of libraries with renovated spaces that haven't renovated their service model.  So while a space may look appealing, friendly and fun - the staff and rules surrounding library services kind of....aren't.  So that last question is a very important question to ask as a library is considering redesign.  New spaces invite new patrons and new ways to use the library like, coming in and 'hanging out.'  Not checking out any books, just seeing the library as a place to be and interact with friends.  So if staff hasn't been involved all along and prepared for this new kind of participation, then all the paint and new furniture in the world may not change your community's view of the library.  So along with scanning catalogs for fun new furniture, it's good to keep staff in mind as an integral part of redesign planning by creating trainings and workshops on customer service. 


Josephine Cameron said...

Hear, hear, Kelley! And that hot air balloon light is the *coolest* it in your library? I want it in my house!