Review: Columbus Main Library Kid Space

The Columbus Library has re-opened after a year of renovations! We explored it today and here is my official review.

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The renovations did a great job of incorporating a new contemporary feel into the original early 1900s ambiance. Sadly, though, with all the renovations, the kid-space fell flat.

Now, I am not saying that it is not a good space for kids, simply that in comparison to what it was, it lost a lot of charm. My minions loved going to the “castle library” and playing with the various interactive play spaces it had. Now, it barely has any!

The new kid-space contains books for ages 0-9 and has a nice layout. The bathrooms are kid-sized {which the minions loved!} and they provide plenty of seating for reading. Unfortunately, they dropped the elements beyond books that little minds require to learn.

Elements NOT brought into the new library kid-space from the old:

  • Dramatic play space. The library used to change out this space monthly to reflect various themes such as a restaurant or post office.
  • Puppet show area. It was a simple stage and basket of puppets and any time we were there, kids were playing here expanding their imagination.
  • Light wall/Magnet board for kids to practice letters and numbers. According to one of the librarians, this is coming soon.
  • Private story time space. I didn’t know this was necessary until we attempted to attend a story time {see below}.
  • Creative play space.  Where are the blocks?!? Simple toys encourage little ones to get creative!
  • Kindergarten assessment center. They had a great center before renovating that told you what a kid is expected to know and then offered little games in order to assess your child. I personally loved this and it didn’t take much space at all.

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So, what IS in the new library kid-space?

  • Tons of books! The organization is fantastic and, let’s face it, we are at a library and this IS the purpose of a library.
  • A lot of computers and tablets. While I do understand the purpose, this was one of the only interactive pieces with which kids could play. I do not go to the library for media time and the number of tablets and computers with little other option was a turn-off for me.
  • Story time. The idea of having this as the first thing you see upon entering is appealing until you realize that one person speaking in a very open space is not very conducive for hearing well. Add to that the kids in the space who are NOT involved in story time and it makes a difficult task of asking preschoolers to focus.
  • Kid-sized potties + a family bathroom. This was a nice touch showing that they put a lot of thought into how to make things easy for parents.
  • Five toys. Literally one puzzle and four toys for toddlers. That’s it. A librarian said they rotate them out, but it seemed like a tease.

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I know that a lot of thought and preparation went into this huge renovation. The hours spent are seen through all the details in the construction and the items that were selected are top-notch. However, in comparison the the old kid-space? I vote for the old.     

With my personality, I am very quick to ask questions. The journalist in me I suppose. Or the nosiness… One of those two, that’s for sure!

I talked with two librarians and was ensured that this was the only kid-space in the library. There are a few elements still in the works such as a smart-board and a light board. They are open to hearing from parents/care givers as to what they can do to make it a better space. This does not mean that every idea will be accepted of course, but feedback is welcome.

I wish I had more positive feedback to give, but sadly, I was very disappointed in the kid-space renovation at the Columbus Public Library downtown. Compared to others in their own network such as Karl Rd., Whetstone, New Albany, it simply falls flat. Not to mention Westerville! If you want to engage kids at a young age to be actively involved at the library, you have to have those intentional elements in order to engage.

I still encourage you to check it out and let me know your thoughts. One great addition is that the library opens to the Topiary Garden in the back. This was a nice walk for the minions and a picnic in the park is always a plus!

Have a great day!

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