Thursday, May 4, 2017

Flip the Children’s Space: A Face Lift for Kids?

In the recent WAPL session, Flip the Children’s Space: A Face Lift for Kids?, Patricia S. Becker and Susan Queiser from Barron Public Library shared how they transformed a 103-year-old Carnegie library into a space that would welcome children and families to stay and read. Before their transformation, families would stay at the library only for approximately 15 minutes. Now, they regularly have families in the library for an hour visit.
Their project included transforming their picture book collection into a hybrid system of both subject bins (using freezer crates), and alphabetized shelves. For non-fiction, they used a version of Dewey Light that was driven by the question, “Why are we using decimals in our non-fiction collections when students do not learn decimals until 4th grade?” Wanting to make the space more intuitive for kids, they did away with the numbers altogether and instead organized their non-fiction books into subjects.
They also bravely added new shelf tops in a fun style, a new desk, weeded a substantial part of their collections to showcase their best books (and to reveal holes in their collection) and also created a tween area. No additional staff time was used for this 13-month project, and all the weeding and re-cataloging happened during regular staff hours. To make the project more interesting, they began the project the same day as their summer reading program opened. The results have been substantial, for both patrons and staff. Now, families are staying in the library longer because they have places to sit and read, thanks to new furniture purchased through Wayfair. Also, the children’s librarian can how shelf-read the non-fiction books in 25 minutes. Before this transformation, that project took two days.
Throughout the process, the history of the Carnegie building was preserved, with the original shelving, colors, and layout still represented. This respect to the library’s heritage, while having the courage to re-learn everything we have been taught about how to shelve books, has allowed their library to thrive as a destination in their community. Both speakers welcomed questions for any librarian considering a similar project.

Check out other WAPL youth program reports from the April 27-28 conference (links will be highlighted when published):
Stop here at the WAPL conference website for all the session handouts and slidedecks.

No comments: