I am often asked the question, how do you come up with ideas for learning centers in your library?
Inspiration can come from a variety of places. Think about places where families gather, flip through educational and parenting magazines and catalogs, read professional journals that highlight libraries who have learning centers, look at learning centers at daycares and schools. You never know where a great idea is waiting to be discovered.
Beg, borrow and steal! There are many centers that we have in our branch that came from something I saw in a children’s museum or a brand new library and I knew I could not afford to do it on a large scale but I stole the idea and made it work for my library. There are other centers that started off with a statement from a coworker “What if we could …” Then they are centers that are exactly like one I read about in a professional journal. It is ok to borrow ideas. It is ok to steal a concept and make it your own. It is ok to ask a fellow librarian for their resource list or templates. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Do your research and make the ideas your find work for your space.
Some of my favorite sources for ideas —
Children and Libraries
Lakeshore Learning Catalog
ALA and PLA Conference sessions
Constructive Play Things Catalog
Where do you go for inspiration?