If you’ve been to visit us in the Youth Room lately, you have probably noticed we’ve made some pretty big changes to our space. The promotion of reading and literacy are just as important here in our Youth Services Room as they have always been, but we also recognize that there are fewer and fewer spaces available for children to engage in the important work of play.
David Whitebread, a psychologist at Cambridge University was quoted in a 2015 New York Times article on the topic of children and play. He said, “Play is often perceived as immature behavior that doesn’t achieve anything, but it’s essential to [child] development. They need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions. Kids learn these things through playing.”
Over the last couple of years, the previous Youth Services Manager and I, along with our Youth Services staff, have been discussing changes we have been seeing in the way the community is using our Library. Through these discussions, we identified 4 major goals for developing a space in line with patron use.
Those goals are to create a space that:
• Encourages families to linger,
• Encourages learning through play,
• Includes activities for children 6 months through 6th grade, and
• Is flexible for varying uses (organized programming and casual family use).
In order to accomplish these goals, we have moved a lot of books! Everything is still here—it’s just in a slightly different place than it was before. Please feel free to ask us if you can’t find what you need. We are always happy to help.
The Youth Easy and Board Book collections are now located in the back of the room, making it easier for parents to supervise their children during play and book browsing. The Youth Fiction collection has been relocated and is now featured at the entry to the room. All of the shelves have been cut down in height so that there is full visibility across the room, making it easier for both parents and staff to oversee the space.
Additionally, we have moved the Youth Nonfiction collection to the Library’s second floor. We obviously understand this may be a startling change to our patrons, but the Youth Nonfiction circulation has been declining for a number of years. Not only does the second floor have the space to accommodate this collection, but we are actually hoping that use of the collection will increase if it is visible to all of those patrons seeking nonfiction on the Library shelves. Now you will be able to identify the topic of your choice and see everything we have available on that topic without having to go to three different sections of the Library (Youth, Young Adult, and Adult).
Youth Nonfiction books will retain their Youth call numbers and sticker markings (blue dot on the spine). This means you will still be able to limit your online catalog searches to retrieve only Youth designated books and you will be able to identify Youth books at the shelf. We are always willing to retrieve books for you if you call or email in advance and you can continue to place holds on items located upstairs for staff retrieval. We also have maps available at the Youth Services Desk to help direct you to the section you’re looking for on the second floor.
All of this moving about has opened up the floor space in the middle section of our room and it has become bright and inviting. We hope you like it as much as we do! This fall, the Library will be undergoing some additional construction. After 20 years living in this building, it’s time for new carpet!
Once the carpet has been laid, you’ll notice even more wonderful changes to our space. We have broken down the large age range of patrons we serve to identify new play and learning opportunities that we can offer at the Library and will be adding new activities to the Youth Room this fall. As we roll out these changes over the coming months, we hope you and your children will stop by to read, play, and enjoy the community space that we have to offer here at the Library.