Language Rich Library Environments add value to your customer’s library experience but they also add more “stuff” to your children’s section. I often get questions about how to keep centers in a library clean. The answer is three fold; encourage clean up, staff cleaning schedule and sanitization.
- Offer a stamp or sticker for kids who clean up their mess. We post signs around some of our more messy centers that encourage kids to clean up. After they clean up what they played with they can show the Librarian and get a stamp. Most children will do anything for a stamp or sticker. They are low cost and will save you and your staff a lot of cleaning.
- Clean up the area several times a day. All of our staff takes responsibility to clean up from the pages, to the circulation and reference staff to the security guard, everyone picks up toys when they walk by a mess. The Children’s department staff cleans and straightens the whole room morning, midday, late afternoon and at closing. When your centers are clean, kids are more likely to treat your materials well and clean up their own mess. If they come into a mess, parents and children are likely to leave a mess.
- Blocks, manipulatives , hats, clothes and any other items that might carry germs should be sanitized nightly. All you need to sanitize these items is water, bleach and a spray bottle. Mix 1 teaspoon of bleach with 1 gallon of water and fill the spray bottle. This mixture is good enough to kill germs but will not damage items, clothes, carpet or furniture. Spay your items liberally, including clothes and hats at night and leave them to dry overnight. As you are spraying, you can feel free to stay chairs, tables and anything else you might want to sanitize.