Zoning Your Space For Kids Age 0 to 12
Two examples of award-winning libraries that shatter library stereotypes and provide a multitude of services to meet their communities’ needs are the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center (Little Rock, AK) and the Vancouver Community Library (WA). What’s their secret?
The Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center, a 2015 AIA/ALA Library Building Award recipient, was described as a “community-embedded, supportive learning center” that not only offers books, but also includes a performance space, teaching kitchen, greenhouse, vegetable garden and an arboretum. It was holistically imagined as a children’s education destination.
The design concept for the Vancouver Community Library was metaphorically described as a “drawer full of knowledge,” offering books, lounges, technology, teen rooms, interactive children’s early learning areas, study pods, and individual and group gathering areas.
Public libraries are longstanding, well-respected providers of early literacy skill development, including storytime programming. Many libraries, like the ones mentioned above, are extending services and programming to include learning opportunities that appeal to families and kids well into young adulthood. In addition, libraries also strive to support the diverse social and emotional needs of youth. However, doing all of this places additional functional demands on library space.
Zoning your space is one approach to creating dynamic, age-appropriate spaces that draw kids in and back again.
Early Literacy: Birth to Age 4
The emphasis for this age group is early literacy skills and parent/child resources. A print-rich environment is critical, but so is one that encourages interactive play, exploration and discovery. Play time is thinking time for children.
Youth: Ages 5 to 8
For many five-year olds, kindergarten may be their first exposure to a school environment. Some will be learning their letters and numbers, while others are already eager readers. Libraries play an important role in helping kids become successful readers and motivated, enthusiastic and successful learners.
Preteen: Ages 9 to 12
This is a time of rapid and marked changes in physical, emotional and social development. It is important for kids to have access to resources to discover and pursue interests, develop responsible digital literacy practices, and have places where they feel they belong and are accepted.