"You should never judge a book by its cover"
Modestly placed in downtown Wallingford, the building's exterior is understated with brick siding and tall, crisp windows. However, what is occurring within the walls of the library is extraordinary.
The Wallingford Public Library is the home to some very bold ideas and the community there is re- imagining what it means to be a place of resource and information.
When I met with the library's director Jane Fisher she wanted to begin our tour with the library's new Collaboratory and with good reason! Directly across from the circulation desk is a shiny glass structure called the Collaboratory.
Jane was very patient as we walked through the sparkling glass doors because I froze, my eyes wide with surprise. The Collaboratory is a magical place, and I immediately felt like I had stepped into the workshop of some futuristic school. I turned around, I could see the circ desk, I could see walls and walls of books, but I felt like I had access to something very special.
In the Collaboratory you can let your creativity soar. This place has a little bit of everything. A giant quilting arm, a laser cutter, green screen, state of the art computers installed with Photoshop, sewing machines, two button makers, music equipment... this place is a technological and crafty dreamworld.
Luckily, if (like me) you have no clue where to begin with the Collaboratory the terrific staff offers a variety of super cool classes.
I left this amazing space wanting to create something.
I didn't know what that something was, but I was itching to get my hands on the class schedule.
I was a little surprised the Collaboratory wasn't filled with people. I understand that it was a weekday and school was in session, but seriously, it seemed like an incredible opportunity.
I would like to shout from the rooftops GO TO THE COLLABORATORY!!
AND Friends, you don't have to be from Wallingford!!! If you have a library card you can use this awesome space!
Upon exiting the Collaboratory we walked through a vibrant teen section followed by rows and rows of desktop computers.
I began to notice as we traveled deeper into the library it was getting quieter.
Wallingford Public Library is doing a terrific job of zoning their library. When you are harboring that much technology and creative space it would be easy to lose the quiet comfort of a classic library. I must say, there were plenty of cozy places to study.
After a stroll through the tidy stacks, Jane and I walked back towards the children's department.
For being such a large building, Wallingford's library is all located on the same floor. The children's department is found in the other wing.
Upon entering the children's department you will see the tree.
The tree is so large and magical that children AND adults pause to marvel at its beauty.
The children's wing has two media centers. The Homework Zone is typically used by kids in grades 3-5 while the children's Media Center has educational computer games that are a favorite among parents with younger children.
The picture book and easy reading sections are slightly separated from the rest of the children's department. This room is designed for play and exploration. A child will not be shushed in this room as it caters to a small child's abilities. This sunny place gives children a chance to fully experience what a library has to offer. Plus, a train! I mean, seriously, it doesn't get much cooler than that.
While touring the children's department I was struck by how creative the children's programs are.
If you have a child in your life and are looking for something educational and unique to do, I HIGHLY suggest you check out the children's department.
Wallingford really has an amazing library!
THIS is what happens when a town of average size and wealth takes tremendous pride in their library. With such strong support from their mayor, this community is realizing that curiosity cannot always be helped through books. Wallingford is making sure that every patron has access to the materials they need through media, programs, classes, books, talks, meetings....the list goes on and on.
In many cases, it has become difficult for libraries to juggle the reputation of being a home for books and a place of resource. Wallingford is recognizing a future filled with gadgets, where creativity and knowledge can be accessed in a variety of new ways.
It seems fitting that they are the first "hop" I have written about in 2018 since they are greeting a technological future with open arms. I admit that at my core, I love a library for the books but Wallingford is holding onto a futuristic reality while recognizing the balance of old and new. That balance really is incredible.
Go see this awesome library. Share on Instagram with the hashtag #libraryhop. What are you going to make at the Collaboratory? Thanks for Checking in.