In their “Collaborating to Create Welcoming Spaces for Children, Youth and Families” session, the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota shared a variety of ways they have transformed their spaces to incorporate play spaces for the whole family. One of the most stunning transformations they shared was one in an adult incarceration facility, where they added play experiences to the rooms used for video visitation.
Two spaces were transformed. The first was the waiting room families went to while they were waiting to visit with their incarcerated family member. The space was just 80 square feet, and went from nothing but grey, to a warm, welcoming space that could help children feel at ease in a difficult time.
The second transformation the speakers shared was of the video visitation room itself. The space is tiny, but they still managed to add a play experience. In addition to making the space more welcoming to children, and allowing them to feel safe in a place that might be intimidating, the play experiences give families something to talk about and share during their visit.
This presentation was a great reminder that there are so many different ways the library might be able to help their community. Each community might have different needs, but play is vital everywhere.