Is the Library a Place to Play In?

Once upon a time, there was a library in which people sat silently as they read and were hushed if they dared to make any noise louder than a whisper. This library was a space in which the storage and preservation of books and periodicals were closely watched by the custodian of the library, a person whom many feared.

But those library chronicles have been rewritten. As we consider our learning communities more closely, we know that our libraries need to continually be revised in order to effectively support those whom we serve. Most recently I have been contemplating the needs of our youngest library users.  What do children in the Early Years need at their critical developmental stage? How can we encourage youngsters at this stage to develop a lifelong love for reading and inquiry skills? How can we use best practices in teaching and learning within our library space to support these children? How can we inspire them to wonder, challenge them to explore, support them to create and empower them to connect? ( These are the next chapters in our New Library book.

As we focus on the needs of children in the Early Years, we know that “play is a necessary element for the child’s development and learning in their beginning school years. Play allows children to make sense of the world around them. “(C. Bucheler, Head of Early Years, Innova Academy, Children learn as they play (1)) Play is often referred to as the classroom of life in which children develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. In fact, play helps children develop (early) literacy skills.

So what is the connection between play and the library? Often referred to as the HEART of the school, the library should also be a playground for learning, a space where young children can explore their queries and passions in a number of ways and a place where librarians can empower children to be the best that they can be. Our Innova library spaces will easily support meaningful, open-ended learning events that can impact each child’s development in a very personal way.  Our library may not be an actual playground, but there certainly is a place for play in our library.

Librarians encourage play while facilitating skill development; listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, social-emotional skills and motor skills, are at the very core of what librarians do. Our library spaces in Innova Academy will provide a plethora of resources, including a variety of fiction, and nonfiction books, story sacks, magazines, and manipulatives to be used intentionally to support these skills through developmentally appropriate learning opportunities. Children will also have the option to use iPads and eReaders to enjoy eBooks and digital resources. At Innova Academy learners will be nurtured and challenged to develop an innovator’s mindset and encouraged to become life-long learners.

Which library do you want for your child – the one in which he is hushed and fettered, or the one in which he is heard and free?  The one in which books were the only resource? Or the one in which healthy brain development, exploration skills, language skills, social skills, physical skills and creativity are nourished through a variety of learning materials? We believe we know what you want, and we are ready to welcome you.