Monday, 21 September 2009

The Library as a kids place

I have been looking at the Libraries for Children and Young Adults and Library Buildings and Equipment session at the recent International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) conference in Milan and keep thinking of the line "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" which is attributed to St Francis Xavier. This is also the quote which forms the basis of the long running Seven Up documentary. Basically the line means that who we are as adults is shaped by our childhood.

If this is the case (and I think childhood is incredibly important to shaping who we are as adults) then some of the libraries currently being built for children have the potential to make a real difference and inspire a joy of reading, learning, and discovery. If libraries want to continue to have a role for future generations, creating stimulating and fun places for children can only help. After all it is not only about technology. But back to the IFLA conference, there are a lot of very good papers in this session but the stand out for me was the paper from Denmark "The red tread - new central library in Hjørring, Denmark" [PDF].

This Danish presentation (with lots of great pictures) shows the new central Library in Hjoerring. It does not take long to read.
  • I love the red ribbon pathway through the library (it even encourages kids to crawl through one of the book shelves).
  • I love the slippery slide between the book shelves.
  • I love the more adult club chairs in the older kids reading area.
  • I love the messy activities area with paint and costumes.
  • I love the V.I.P. (Very Important Parent) corner, and
  • I love the tree structure and the soft floor mats in the kids reading area.
If only libraries where like this when I was a child. The librarians at Hjoerring are clearly very good at creating fun spaces that kids would love to use. They also seem very good at using technology, and (importantly) having fun. There is some very good information about this library on the web site and there is even a YouTube video of them building the fit outs for this library. Enjoy!

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