Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Perfect Library

This evening we went to the Arlington Central Library so that Cole and Danielle could hear a presentation by the Arlington Archosaur Association about the dinosaur fossils they are currently excavating.  Cole, at 11, is still certain that he wants to study palentology. 
Once they were signed in, I took Leo upstairs to the children's library to wait on them.  I love that the children's library is seperated from the rest of the library, because children are going to be loud.  Even their inside voices are loud. The room is decorated in bold, primary colors.   Literature-rich accents and pictures are everywhere.  A row of computers at little tables are available for young visitors, with every seat filled.
As soon as we got inside, Leo headed to the back to find a puzzle.  My kids love puzzles, and like reading and dinosaur research, I encourage it completely! Puzzles encourage problem solving and recognition, both early reading skills.  Perfect toys for toddlers and pre-schoolers in a library.  When the puzzles weren't in their usual place, we went up front and asked the very nice librarian where they were.  I actually made Leo ask, trying to encourage independence in him.  She told us that they were going through and getting rid of alot of the toys in the library, and the puzzles were probably gone.  She then offered a box of foam blocks to my sad faced little guy. 
We took the blocks to the tiered seating area where storytime is offered once a week.  Leo and his new little friends, who came running when they saw him walking with a tub of blocks, built towers and sorted them by colors and shapes.  I was leafing through an American Girl book, which the branch has a wonderful selection of, but not really given the chance to get involved because I needed to constantly remind them to keep their voices down and assure other parents that it was okay for them to do something besides read in the library.  I thought about libraries in general.  I found myself daydreaming about what I think would be the perfect children's library....
The children's library would be a place where children beg to be taken, and cry when it is time to leave.  Colorful and Inspiring in appearance, welcoming and comfortable for a long, relaxed stay.  Reading nooks, tents and forts are abundant.  Nature and animals books are found clustered among resident fish, turtles and maybe a family of hamsters, whose habitat intertwines through the bookcases.   Plants, leafs, rocks and other nature items are abundant, along with magnifying glasses for examination. The librarians encourage discovery by offering new items to be researched and identified in the available books. 
Smocks await children at tables set aside for daily art activities centered around a book or series.  Monets and Renoirs hoover about the walls, or float gracefully on wires suspended from the ceiling.  Rows of books pertaining to the arts abound. 
Dress Up clothes, tables and tea sets, a crudely painted mural of a castle, leaving much to the imagination; all are surrounded by books of fiction and fantasy!
Puzzles abound across the rooms, as do maniplitables. 
Storytime here is not done at a scheduled time or a place, but randomly when and where librarian and book and child meet.  He happily encourages the children to clap their hands and stomp their feet to a Banyard Dance when requested! She adorns a magician's hat, and reads a page or two of the escapades of Jack, Annie and their treehouse.   The child reluctantly leaves, clutching their borrowed treasure, anxious to return. 
 Is it really a daydream, or do such libraries exist that excite the senses and create a world where books come alive, and are never told to shhhhhhh?