One week after the Barrington Area Library unveiled its new Youth Services Department, parents and nannies continue to rave about the new space and our own kids just can’t get enough of it. Our babysitter recently sent me a text reading, “This library is crazy awesome!! Even cooler than I was expecting!”
The new Youth Services Department is just the latest area to be completed in the full library renovation currently underway and our babysitter is not the only in love with the new space.
“Lincoln loves the whole new area! There is so much to do and so interactive, it’s great!!”
– Seija Nelson Tierney
“We had the pleasure of being the first ones in the children’s area along with Sandra Simmons Bos, and the girls had a BLAST!!!!! The two year old I nanny for said, ‘Kristin that was so much fun, let’s go back tomorrow!’ The baby also had fun doing Tummy time with the fish!!! What an amazing area for the kids, cannot wait to come back again!!!”
– Kristin Kiefer
We recently asked Barrington Area Library Public Information Manager Karen McBride to share more about the design of the new Youth Services Department and the status of the renovation and here’s what she had to say:
What are some of the highlights of the new Youth Service Department?
The focus in designing the department was to truly create a space where learning is interactive and fun. Along those lines, some highlights include…
A giant “Light Bright” wall – children can use colorful, clear pegs to create their own designs that light up from within
An entire room made of Lego Duplos – kids can cover the walls with their design or build structures
A robot “Simon Says” video display – kids get instructions on how to move, and the robot moves with them
A playhouse area with a slide, a puppet theater, and costumes to try
A magnetic chalkboard wall – kids can free draw with the chalk, and we’ll change the magnet play area frequently
Another play area has a pretend grocery store, restaurant and workshop
Babies love to crawl, walk and jump around in the digital Fish Pond, which is projected onto the floor
Bigger kids are loving the Word Wall – this is also projected but onto a wall. We used a large photograph of Cuba Marsh as the background. Shadowy virtual birds fly in and drop down favorite phrases and characters from children’s books. The images and words can be manipulated by children who are standing in front of the wall.
We’re just about ready to introduce a special kids’ gaming room and digital media lab, too.
Are there any elements that are particular hits with the kids?
One of the most amazing parts of our opening day for me was seeing the kids discover their own favorite elements.
The Light Bright wall was hugely popular, but so was the chalkboard wall. Many kids loved trying on the costumes and playing “pretend” in the store and workshop areas.
But I also saw smaller children who were perfectly content with a wooden puzzle or doing some quiet reading in their new space. The babies love the Digital Pond. It’s calming but fascinating. They jump around and can see the water “move,” and they love trying to catch the digital fish!
The slide that comes out of the playhouse seems to be the feature that the children notice first. It’s surprising – you’re used to seeing a slide on a playground, but perhaps not at the library. It draws them in, and makes it clear this is a place for active play and learning.
They all try out the slide a few times, then they begin to realize – wow, there are so many other fun things to explore, too. We had some families return twice on opening day!
What would you recommend – new since the renovation – that patrons come by to check out in general?
The entire new Youth Services department is absolutely worth a special trip. Local high school students have already been making great use of the new study rooms and Young Adult area on the second floor. Everybody loves the comfy booths we have for hanging out – I’m happy to say we’ve got some kid-sized booths on the first floor now, too.
Remember that we’re still about 4 months away from completion, so even more “wow” moments are coming over the next few months. Adults will be just as excited over the newly remodeled meeting rooms, Business Center, makerspace and other features, but we need a little more time to create those areas. I promise it will be worth the wait!
For adult users, I’ve been filling them in on the new quiet study and reading areas up on the second floor. They see the construction areas and think there’s no place to relax, read, work on their laptops, but we’ve already got new space for them upstairs and it’s just lovely. You have a beautiful view of our garden, lots of sunlight. It’s a wonderful space to spend a few hours reading, daydreaming, or getting some serious work done.
What is the latest on the renovation status and what comes next?
We are about to enter the fourth and final phase of renovation, which we hope will be complete by May.
The Circulation department just moved into its new workspace. We’re just about to open up a new vending café for the public, with a big variety of snacks and drinks.
During this next month, the former Youth Services area will be reconstructed, with new carpeting, lighting, and furnishings. Then we can move the adult fiction books upstairs. That clears up space on the first floor for the new Business and Technology Centers, and will allow us to renovate the meeting rooms.
The atrium entrance way will be one of the last areas to be renovated, providing for easier access to customer service and the new Internet café. It’s so exciting, and we’re so pleased with the response we’ve had so far. We’re really creating a dynamic, community center that will serve residents of the Barrington area for a long, long time.