Service Review- The Grange Kids – Children's library space

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    • #2599
      Stephanie Venturato

      The Grange Library is a relatively small suburban Library backing onto parkland and the Kelvin Grove bikeway. It’s a very idyllic space in many ways, recently renovated, it is colourful, open and bright with a deck out the back that has a coffee shop and looks out onto a modern playground. Set in a bermuda triangle of three primary schools, young families are their primary demographic, therefore the renovation paid particular attention to the children’s space.


      The space has a circus them,  it’s definitely the sort of placeI would have wanted to hang out in as a kid, heck I want to hangout there now. It has a dress-up station, a faux popcorn stand, a house of mirrors, plushy couches oh and books. Though I suppose the big drawcard it the touch screen games table which is set just outside the room and is almost always swarmed by masses of children.


      What makes this space such a success is the library environment as destination and a experience. This design of the library as playground  is know as ‘Disneyisation’ ,  the use of bright colours, exaggerated shapes and costumes makes the space a experiential and tactile environment that encourages learning through play. The space is also a comfortable one, with plenty of couches to loll about on, this is about creating a comfort zone for learning and play. It is not just a public space but an extension of the home and the domestic, a return to the nurturing role of the family.


      Earlier in the year I had a chat with one of the Librarians here at the Grange that specialises in children’s and YA literature. She spoke about some of the particular challenges they face with this space. One of the key issues she brought up was the lack of supervision, especially over the holidays. She noted that often parents sit out at the coffee shop and pretty much let the kids roam free, it’s not normally a huge problem, however with the games tables(aka a big shiney thing)  things get out of hand quite quickly. The games table is quite expensive they don’t really want fights breaking out on it or kids smashing hard objects onto the surface ( which happens, frequently), it also causes a disturbance is what is really quite a small space and that’s not fair to the library’s other major demographic of retiree’s.


      This is a common complaint for librarians as people view the library as a safe space , as it should be, however librarians have other tasks and cannot keep an eye on children all the time as a parent or teacher would.. Peck notes key to these issues and having set rules and enforcing them. At Grange they have a 3 strikes, you’re out policy, if the librarians have to talk to a kid three times then they have to go get a parent or take some time out from the games table or whatever’s causing the issue. Normally 2 is all they need to behave better so it seems to be a pretty alright system.


      Overall I think it is a very successful space, one thing I would like to see though is more integration of multimedia based learning to the space. The games space is a great start but it is important for kids to have access to a wide range to digital media that encourages creativity and literacy.

    • #2603
      Stacey Larner

      Wow that space sounds great. Might have to go check it out!

    • #2615
      Will Wood

      A house of mirrors and a popcorn stand! Touch screen games! I know where I am going when I have some free time back after all the assessment is in. This space sounds really cool and like they have genuinely considered the needs and interests of the target demographic. It is a real shame that some parents see libraries as a childcare centre. If I had kids and went somewhere like this you can be damn sure I would be hitting that dress-up box with them not out having a coffee. Okay, maybe a quick coffee…but then I’d be serving popcorn like it was my job.

    • #2876
      Samantha Maddox

      Hey Steph, This space sounds amazing for children and really interactive! With all the things they have available you can see how ‘some’ people would use it as a day care centre… Although I think they are taking a constructive approach with the 3 strikes and your out policy. It sounds like a great space for the littles 🙂

    • #2909

      How cool is that library! I can’t help thinking of Peldon’s lonely experience with her little boy at the Mt Gravatt library – what a diference to have groups of noisy kids in a circus environment. I know which one I’d want to be at even if the noise becomes a disturbance at times. But it puts librarians in an awkward situation, particularly when the parents are sitting close by in a coffee shop. Peck’s idea that firm rules that are enforced is really sensible and useful for hardworking librarians but also for kids who need to have boundaries so they can understand their own behaviour. I guess it’s a bit of a balancing act – balancing a fun space with a space that still a library space that others use. Doesn’t sound like a problem that’s going to go away any time soon.

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