Guest Blogger

Too Many Toys: Recovering Library Programming and Play Spaces

Play food scattered atop a table in the children's play area with other toys on the surrounding floor.

Have you ever looked around the library and wondered where all the toys came from? Or who was going to clean them up? Did it make you want to cry? Or maybe kick and scream and have a bit of tantrum? I’ve been there, and I’m guessing you have, too. Whether you’re looking at a public floor play space or programming toys, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Supporting play in libraries often means giving children and caregivers access to many toys and activities. Open-ended toys provide more learning opportunities, but often means more loose parts. If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen something that would be just perfect for your program or space and purchased it. But when does it become too many toys? Can you recover? Let me tell you what my library did.

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

FamilySpace at the Library

Several years ago, before the COVID-19 outbreak, Invest in Children, a community wide public/private partnership administered by the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood, and the United Way of Greater Cleveland came to the two largest library systems in Northeast Ohio (Cleveland Public Library (CPL) and Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL)—the largest suburban system for which I work) with an idea.  Although delayed thanks to the pandemic, the first FamilySpace location opened in September 2022 at CCPL’s Garfield Heights Branch, and three other locations (two in each system total) followed.  The response has been positive, to say the least.

Guest Blogger

Rethinking Play

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers What an amazing session this afternoon at #alsc22 on “True Play” presented by Carissa Christner and Holly Storck-Post from Madison Public Library. They led us on a play exploration to begin with: can you recall a favorite memory of play from your childhood? Stop and think for a moment. Did adults tell you how to play? True Play is deep and uninterrupted engagement in the activity of one’s own choice. Sounds simple doesn’t it?? And indeed, simplicity is a key factor. They reviewed the history of play at their library, from play literacy (themed type activities), playful activities in storytime (though still adult designed), and talked about the importance of play. Did you know that for young children movement…

Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

The Impact of Play During Library Programming

Aren’t articles that remind us why we choose to work in youth services rewarding?  While a simple search brings up a plethora of information on the impact of early childhood programs on educational attainment and quality of life, research that supports instructional approach and ties the approach to outcomes are compelling. In the past few years a handful of studies arose that questioned the veracity of research related to early educational impact, postulating that the benefits fade by third grade and public investment is a waste.  However, that’s not quite the whole picture.  It turns out the approach to teaching children in preschools, and other organizations that impact early development-such as libraries, is the deciding factor on whether a program is a good investment of time and resources. This new era of research looks at the differences in instructional approaches in preschools and compares play-based learning to a more traditional…

Blogger Early & Family Literacy committee

Play With Babies in Library Spaces

Play is quite possibly my favorite of the five Early Literacy Practices. Not only because it has the boundless freedom to surprise and delight, but also because it naturally incorporates the other 4 practices – talk, sing, read, and write. When you play, especially with a playmate, talk is a natural part of the fun. If you’re anything like me, you also often make up songs about what you’re doing. Playing games such as I spy or tic-tac-toe incorporate reading and writing. There is just so much possibility with play, and I find that endlessly exciting.