Library Spaces for Children

So much of what we do in the kids’ library biz is “push.”  “Check out this great book!”  “Come to this great program!”  “Use these great resources we have available!”  We’ve got posters and displays (so many words!), and, while pushing literacy and library use is what it’s all about, I’ve been thinking lately that maybe we need a little balance.  Maybe we need more white space on the page.

I suppose the question I’m asking is “What sort of cognitive activities do we want to encourage and provide space for?”  Curiosity?  Contemplation?  Synthesis?  We support a lot of information-seeking behaviors, but I’m wondering:  Could the library provide a place for children to learn on their own?  Discover something new?  Be alone with their own minds for just a bit?

I imagine a space children would have to choose to enter, separate from the stacks.  There they might color quietly, or read, or look at prints of famous art on the wall or famous places-maybe with plants or some fresh flowers now and again-maybe a sculpture.  It wouldn’t be a museum or a classroom or a quiet study room or a Borders.  It would be an interesting relaxing space.  No computers.  No displays (although maybe some books and magazines just sort of ‘lying around’ in case you felt like picking one up).  It would look a little different the next time you came in.  Familiar, comfortable, hospitable, quietly stimulating.

A Discovery Place.  A Comfy Corner.  A Thotful Spot.