I knew my library was going to be very busy over Spring Break so I wanted to create a passive program to engage our patrons but that wouldn’t require a lot of staff time. We have our early literacy centers, but those are geared more towards toddlers and preschoolers and I knew we’d get a larger amount of school age kids in during break. When I thought about how much the kids love imaginative play in storytime, the idea for Library Town was born.
Spreading out throughout our story hour room, Library Town included a restaurant, grocery store, doctor’s office, train, telephone booth, and of course a library. We also re-used some of our homemade building blocks that we created for the summer reading program to look like buildings for kids to create their own mini town and added our community helper dolls to the mix.
The set up was fairly easy. We collected lots of boxes in the months leading up to Library Town. Then to set up the event, we arranged small spaces for each location and add paper, crayons, and other supplies the kids might want to use. We made menus for the kids to fill out for the restaurant, had paper and stamps for them to make and decorate their own library card and used withdrawn books so they could shelve and check out books, and we had prescription pads printed off so kids could write out a prescription at the doctor’s office and take notes.
We set up Library Town on a Monday morning after storytime and left it up until Thursday at 5. Throughout the week we had kids going in and out of the room playing and having a blast. We had promoted the program in our program calendar, but we advertised with a big sign in front of the room saying that Library Town was open and we made sure to announce it patrons when we noticed a large crowd and also let families know when we talked to them.
We had storytime during the week, but instead of hosting it the story hour room as we usually do, we held it in the middle of the children’s department and read books about around the neighborhood and community helpers and sang The Wheels on the Bus before we let kids into Library Town to play.
The entire program went wonderfully and kids and parents loved it. It was a great passive program and it was a wonderful way to highlight a lot of our community helper books-we were refreshing the book display in the room on a regular basis! I also loved this program because it worked for a wide range of ages and it was perfect for families. I’m eager to open up our Library Town again!