If you are a regular visitor to Libraryvoice, you may have noticed that my posts have been rather infrequent these past few weeks. But, oh boy, do I have a good excuse! In October I joined the team of the Children’s Department of the Darien Library in Connecticut. About a month and a half after my first day we closed the doors at the Leroy Ave location to begin preparations for a move on down the ol’ Post Road.
Moving a library with over 150,000 items is certainly no small feat. But many libraries move. What made this move particularly special was that we undertook a massive and thoughtful reorganization of the entire collection. From children’s picturebooks up to adult non-fiction, each department had the opportunity to rethink the physical and virtual layout and accessibility of their collections. The goal was to create collections and spaces that are inviting, easily browsable, and intuitive.
In the Children’s Department, we have spent the last six weeks completely rethinking our collection. In our old building, the picture books lived (like they do in almost every public library) in a large section organized by author. For robust collections like ours, this can translate into a somewhat intimidating and confusing browsing experience. If you are a mom searching for a good book for your 3-year-old, you may not know where to start. If you have a specific title in mind, the huge expanse of shelves can make finding what you want difficult. Picturebooks are a varied and diverse format. When organized by format and author, a simple story for toddlers about barnyard animals can very well live next to a heart-wrenching tale of the Underground Railroad. The same can be said about children’s fiction, which can range from a 500-page Harry Potter novel to a Katie Kazoo.
In our new building, the Children’s Library is divided into two distinct sections: the First Five Years and Kids. On the First Five Years side, the collection has been organized according to subdivisions that make it easy for parents and caregivers to find materials for their young, pre-reading children. The new sections include: Concepts, Growing Up, Nature, Rhymes & Songs, Transportation, Celebrations, Stories, and Learn to Read. Being children’s librarians, we color-coordinated each new section to make it visually intuitive to find what you’re looking for. Our new SOPAC reflects the changes as well.
The Kids side of the room is designed with older children in mind- kids who are now reading on their own, researching, doing homework, and creating content. This section includes Kids Fiction and Non-Fiction, as well as an Independent Reader corner. The books and materials here were chosen to to appeal to kids who are now comfortable reading chapter books on their own but may not be ready to take on something like Percy Jackson just yet. The Independent Readers (or iRead section) also include picturebooks for older kids, a collection that can sometimes get lost or overlooked when not highlighted.
I could go on for pages about all the cool changes we have made, but like LeVar Burton would say, you don’t have to take my word for it! Check out this post by local blogger, Nicole Lyons, who attended our sneak peek this week.
We officially open our doors tomorrow, Saturday, January 10th at 10am!