Guest Blogger

True Play at Libraries #alsc22

Presenters Carissa Christner, Madison Public Library, and Holly Storck-Post from Madison Public Library led a discussion about true play to a packed room this afternoon. Carissa Christner defined true play as deep and uninterrupted engagement in the activity of one’s own choice. The presenters then led the audience through a presentation of how they implemented true play spaces at their branches and the opportunities and challenges that cropped up during the development and implementation phases.

The main takeaways from this session:

  • Perform a play audit
  • Reimagine play spaces to encourage unstructured play
  • Create an atmosphere that prompts more yeses from parents and fewer nos
  • Permission for parents and caregivers to let kids play unprompted
  • A place of joy, not perfection

I had not expected an education program to have such a deep impact on my thinking so immediately. After the session, I went back to my room to write down my thoughts so I know what I want to share with my children’s services team when I return from ALSC Institute and enrich our programming and play opportunities.

It was one of those beautiful moments where I was in the right place at the right time to hear the message I needed to hear.

Play IS the work of the child

Maria Montessori (emphasis added)
Original art Jessica Zimmerman Smith

What do play spaces look like at your library? How do they focus on joy over perfection? What challenges have you faced? What opportunities have you found? Let us know in the comments below!

Guest contributor Jessica Zimmerman Smith (she/her/hers) is the Children’s Services manager at Morley Library in Painesville, Ohio. Jessica grew up in a rural Ohio county with half its population identifying as Amish. Although not Amish herself, the robust Outreach and Bookmobile services ensured she was never without access to reading material. At Institute 2022, she is most looking forward to absorbing new ideas and making new connections to support her professional growth and to provide new services to her Northeast Ohio community.

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

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