Guest Blogger

A Million Dollar Community Classroom Kitchen and Other Dream Library Spaces at #PLA2022

After the first lunch of #PLA2022, I treated myself to a foodie kid lit session titled Beyond Yuck and Yum: Programming with Picture Books about Food. This session featured June Jo Lee, a food ethnographer and Suzanna Urminska, of the Philadelphia Free Library System’s Cultural Literacy Center.  

June Jo spoke passionately about her food ethnography work, and the real people that inspired her two picture books, and then Suzanna spoke about the food work she does using her library system’s amazing, one million dollar community classroom kitchen and the Cultural Literacy Center that exists there. 

I was both in awe and supremely jealous, and immediately began asking what sort of million dollar spaces I would love to see in my own library, or frankly, in any library I was able to patronize!

A million dollar community classroom kitchen would be awesome if you had a community garden supported by your library.  You could have cooking classes around plant-based meals, using fruits and vegetables straight from your garden, and invite community members in for a group meal. 

What if your library had a makerspace that was specifically geared towards children—with specially sized machines that invite children to engage with machinery from a young age? 

Can you imagine a library with a million dollar space for helping children experiencing homelessness in your neighborhood—with washing machines and dryers and a fridge stocked with fresh food? Or a library space dedicated to pottery—with full shelves and kilns and glorious pots of paint? 

What is your dream library space—the kind of space you would create if money was not a hindrance, but was there to support the library’s work?

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

Guest conference blogger Aryssa Damron (she/her) is a children’s librarian with the District of Columbia Public Library system and a member of the ALSC membership committee. This is her first PLA, and she’s so excited to attend in person, and present in person on Thursday the 24th! Aryssa is looking forward to learning more about some of the great new books coming out this year and meeting other librarians from around the country. Her favorite snack is grapes and pepperjack cheese, always in the exact same bite.

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