Observing the Woodstock Public Library, Sunday, November 2, 2014.
I don’t want to sound like a complainer, but after a week of being ties to a heating pad, the couch, and crutches, the visit to the public library felt like a vacation! Having visited most of the nearest libraries, Algonquin, Dundee, Gail Borden, Huntley, and Crystal Lake, I chose the library that’s just a little off my typical beaten path, the Woodstock Public Library. Upon arrival, I noticed the beautiful and inviting exterior aesthetics. A curved wall with ceiling-high windows, trimmed landscape, and a footprint the length of an entire city block greeted me. Impressed by the city’s investment into the facility, I anxiously approached the doors.
A beautiful, well-lit, and warm space welcomes its visitors. The reference desk centrally located and serviced by several seemingly content individuals sits opposite the fish tank glowing with creatures. Painted with colorful murals and warmth, comfort and peace encompasses the entire space. The shelves look clean, organized, and well-labeled for users. Several books set cover-out to encourage browsing and reading. The high ceiling provides a sense of openness and the windows expose the beautiful view of fall trees. Yes, Woodstock’s Public Library welcomes its patrons with charm, pride, and beauty.
Wandering through the children’s department, I noticed several designated areas ranging from, but not limited to group meetings, research areas, private study cubicles, computer stations, craft activities, and building toys. One dad walked up and down the aisles holding his sleeping infant in her carseat. I wish I would have though of that as a young mom when I wanted my colicky child to sleep. Younger mothers with their children participated in the, “Day of the Dead,” coloring pages left on one table while discussing color recognition with their preschool-aged children. Concentrating on their “Day of the Dead” masks, the children rarely looked up. Another family created a skeleton with provided “bones” and brads to provide movement to the joints. Others busied themselves with the activities – trains, legos, and gear games. However, not one child was using any electronic technology. The 12 Dell computers labeled for games, catalogues, and internet access sat inactive and unattended.
During my visit one determined tween with his mom, shuffled directly to a specific shelf and grabbed a desired book to add to the two videos in his hands. Later in the visit, he and his mom busied themselves in the Young Adult Department. At that point I happen to observe his language studies materials for learning French, a book and a DVD. I wonder, how we can promote more tweens and young adults to enjoy the advantages of the local libraries. The Young Adult section is furnished with table, chairs, bean bags, and houses 6 computers. 2 of which are database and catalogues. There wasn’t a librarian, but the few patrons were focused and seemed confident in the organization of the library.
The eclectic staff milled throughout the library. An older librarian spent several minutes speaking with a female patron pointing at the displayed books and materials. She left her to tend to some of the younger visitors. One librarian sat at the counter for the first half hour – she was in the computer and I could not decipher what she was doing, but another walked around meeting and greeting some patrons and inviting them to participate in crafts. Another took photographs of the library, complimented the preschoolers work and invited the children to have their face painted. I scooted past the “computer-focused” librarian on my crutches wondering if she’d notice me. I was prepared to ask for the Kathy Applegate book, The One and Only Ivan, but she did not. This stands out to me as I prefer the greeting friendly librarian. The “face” of the library impacts the entire visit!
My mind wandering to ideas of connecting libraries, books, teacher, and students. I note that patrons actively participate in the puzzles, crafts, activities beyond the books and electronic technology. These are not the focus, but allow community and socialization between the visitors. Considering the pleasure, I decide that the school library could be used as an artistic and literally hub in the school. I think of
field trips to public libraries that promote library card sign-up and show students the other materials and services available at the library. Libraries house reference experts who can search for materials to enhance curriculum that may not be afforded in the school budget. I look forward to encouraging a strong relationship between the public and my future school library.