Tinkering at the Library

by Stefanie

The libraries that we grew up with are gone.

A library in 2018, particularly a public library, if it continues to thrive, does so because it evolves and changes with the world around it. A library fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago, generally consisted of print media – books (obviously), magazines, newspapers – and the occasional story time. It might hold other resources and treasures, but the vast majority of library patrons came in for that print media, especially the books. And libraries will always (hopefully) be the best place to get a copy of the next book on your reading list.

But as technology, and even the way we read, has changed, libraries have come forward to fill a lot of creative gaps in ways you might never have thought of. Some of this comes in the form of lending a new range of materials, from DVDs to digital books and music to tablets and Kindles. Unique circulating collections, like our board games and Discovery Packs, are broadening what patrons can get out of the library.

But beyond this, libraries are also becoming more and more a place to DO things, in addition to checking out materials. They’ve developed into spaces for children and adults to make, to build, to create and imagine, and to just have a lot of fun. Here at the Belding Library, we are really excited about this (and frankly love having the chance to put together all of our makerspace kits and programs).

In the spirit of making, building, creating, imagining, and playing, we’re adding two new  children’s programs to our regular monthly schedule. One of them is our monthly STEAM Time. STEAM, if you’re not familiar, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. While it sounds very serious, what it means for us is experimenting using all of the parts of your brain while you play! While we love story time, and all the stories and singing and crafting it lets us do, STEAM Time will give our birth to five-year-old patrons a chance to learn in a slightly different way, while still getting to be silly! We’ll play games, build things, and experiment with sensory bins in a drop-in program the last Wednesday of the month at 10am, starting January 31st.

The elementary-aged kids get their own tinkering session in the form of our new Tinker Lab. Each month we’ll give the kids a surprise challenge along the lines of “Create something to protect you from a magician.” We will provide a pile of different materials for the kids to work with, and it’s up to them – either on teams or individually – to figure our how they want to solve the problem. This means figuring out the problem itself (what is it that actually needs to be fixed?), then creating a prototype solution they can test. The most important part is being willing to do some trial and error; tinkering is about testing, fixing weak spots, and trying again! Tinker Lab will be the fourth Saturday of the month at 10am, starting January 27th.

Additionally, while our Little Wigglers (birth-2 years) and Preschool Pals (3-5 years) start up again next week, we are also starting a monthly evening Family Story Time, for families who are unable to bring their kids to our daytime events, and for families who just can’t get enough of the library! This new story time will welcome all children – pre-K, and older children, as well – and their caregivers, and will include stories, songs, games, and crafts. Family Story Time will begin Monday, February 5 at 6pm. As for our “regular” story times, Little Wigglers will be every Monday at 10am starting January 15, and Preschool Pals will be every Wednesday at 10am starting January 17.

We are really excited to see what the kids come up with, and are working hard to find new ways to expand what our library provides to our Belding community. We hope to see you and your kiddos there!



2 thoughts on “Tinkering at the Library”

    1. Hi, Amy – Yes! In our upcoming Tinker Lab, the kids will be challenged to make something for a Ninja to store his stuff in. As far as materials, we usually use recyclables and the like. Thanks for your interest!


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