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Friday, December 10, 2010

SHH - This is the Library

I have a proposed change for the library.  Move the kids' corner.  It needs to be near the door - right next to the door, in fact.  Is there any good reason why the kids' section is always in some far off corner toward the back?  I understand wanting to keep it as far from the real library as possible, but making toddlers walk through endless aisles of books and movies and manuever their way past kiosks and study desks just to get to the cardboard-paged picture books?  It seems counter-productive to me.

Sure, it's all smiles and giggles and "aren't they so cute!" on the way there.  Those love-filled looks from the other patrons slowly simmer down, though, as the twins talk just a little to loud, throw just one too many books, and grab just one too many CDs out of the bin that shouldn't be there in the first place.  My heart melts when I hear them reciting the alphabet using the cues from the letter rug under their feet.  Other people, seated far too close, are less enchanted.

But the real reason the section should not be in the back corner is the knock-down, drag-out tantrums that occur whenever we try to leave.  I'm sure there are many parents who have little angels that love to leave a fun place.  I am not one of those lucky parents.  Whether they're yelling about who gets to hold the new Dora DVD, or freaking out about who's sticker is bigger, or simply flopping around and running away so that we magically don't have to leave, the five minutes it takes me to physically wrench them into the parking lot never fail to be the most humiliating of my week. 

Until you've carried two screaming, wriggling, 30-pound, two year olds - one under each arm - through miles and miles of aisles filled with books and "Be Quiet" signs, while what seems like thousands of other library patrons stare at you, mouths agape in horror, you haven't lived.

I'm not kidding when I tell you that often librarians descend upon me, as if to lend a helping hand.  The hand never helps though.  Now I just get to make my football-hold trek with an audience of three helpless adults staring on, wishing I'd never entered their sacred space - and that's in addition to the flustered patrons.

Simply put, having the kids' section in the back corner is not practical.  If the section were near the door, I would be able to do my business and leave with minimal fuss.  The checkout desk would be right there.  The babies wouldn't even notice as I slipped the librarian our books and videos one at a time and then hid them in my purse.  If anyone got too loud, I could guide them outside, not in a frenzied, embarrassed rush, but as part of a game.

"Look babies!  Let's check out the sidewalk cracks!"  And off we'd go, whether or not we returned depending on their mood.

The only reason I can see for not doing this is that parents who perhaps have children a bit older than mine may want to peruse the library's stock on their own while their children play in their own little area.  It's safer in that case to have the section in the back.  Still, if one has a child who is likely to wander outside if left alone, perhaps that kid is not ready to be left alone after all.

All I know is that based on my experiences having the kids' area in the back of the library only ends in tears - for everybody there.


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  1. I loved the children's library of the library in Clarksville, TN. It was actually it's own room inside the library and it was relatively close to the entrance. I tell you what though, having the children's section inside a room with a door is the best idea ever. Not only did it mean you didn't have to worry about your child wondering off, but they could actually be loud in the toy are without disturbing anyone else in the library. It had an area in the back for crafts, a mini auditorium, and it even had it's own set of bathrooms! :)

  2. Our library is like that. It's the second story, but has a parking lot on the hill above the main library, with an entrance right there.

    It'd be pretty much perfect for what you're describing.

  3. I actually think they put them in the back because they don't want to risk kids escaping out the front door. Seriously.



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