Children’s Areas in Libraries
With an ever-increasing exposure to digital devices, children need opportunities to unplug and engage in hands-on creative learning. Libraries offer a great opportunity to provide this form of free play through unstructured imaginative environments that allow kids to be themselves and discover more about the world around them. Below are two great ways libraries, schools, and youth outreach programs can create these type of learning environments.
Create a Sense of Belonging
Children are highly curious about the world around them and it’s often said that children want to “grow up too fast”, the truth is that kids just want to have a sense of belonging. But how do you create spaces that helps kids feel this way?
Thinking about common shared experiences is a great way to achieve this. We all experience nature, we all experience the unique aspects of our communities, and interact with objects in similar ways. Good space designers should therefore seek to incorporate these elements that children see day-to-day.
However, the critical way to give boys and girls a true sense of belonging is to bring these icons down in scale so that children can interact with them in an environment that makes them feel empowered. This is the reason many children’s museums simply take the ‘everyday’ and scale it down, as play is just a way for kids to learn more about how the world works.
Create Inclusive Spaces
Everyone deserves to feel included and accepted in society, and libraries exemplify this belief. Designing spaces for children to feel this way is important for good social skill learning and also helps to empower kids to express themselves.
Children’s spaces need to be designed in such a way as to provide inclusion for the various abilities kids possess. For example, a baby, toddler, and elementary school child all play and experience life differently, yet the should all be included in well-designed kid spaces.
Having a variety of activities and spaces for all ages is important for making all feel included. For many parents with children close in age these spaces provide an area to bring all the kids together, fostering sibling growth and ease for parents. Likewise, it is important to provide spaces like sensory and quite rooms in order to be truly inclusive for all children.
BONUS: Establish Good Collaboration with Stakeholders
In order to create great learning environments for youth, you need good collaboration to identify what is important to organizations, parents, and especially children! Interacting with the community through public open houses, and hands-on workshops that include opportunities for feedback from kids is important for well designed spaces. As designers, collaborating with good organizations that seek to empower children are what make great spaces go from concept to reality and is a very important part of the collaboration chain.
Kodet Architectural Group is currently working with Dakota County to renovate and expand the Pleasant Hill Library in Hastings, Minnesota. A major element of the remodel is a new reimagined children’s area. Kodet took inspiration from Hastings natural beauty and will incorporate this into the space in order to give kids that visit a sense of belonging to the community and nature. Similarly, the space will accommodate all children from babies to teens and features a quite sensory room to assist parents who have special needs children.