September 25th, 2020

Library Chat: New play space an instant hit

By Ken Feser on February 14, 2020.

The Co-op Community Developmental Play Space finally opened in our Kinsmen Children’s Library. It has been hugely popular; every day my spirits are lifted by the sight and sound of many children and caregivers enjoying the toys and equipment.

With a new service like this, there are always hiccups. The balls from the magnet wall are exactly the right size to disappear under the floor of the play structure; we will be investing in a hockey stick or something similar to winkle them out. The steps on the play structure are slippery; we will be fixing this with some grip tape. And even from my office, I can hear the occasional child in full meltdown, overwhelmed by it all. If it is your child I hear, don’t feel bad; we understand.

The play space is not open all the time and we’ve had visitors who did not realize this. My apologies for the misunderstanding. The space is normally open weekdays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 1-5 p.m. It is closed for an hour in the mornings because we often have storytimes then, and because we want to respect those who like or need a quiet serene library. It closes earlier than the library because we need time to clear the space, and because it’s time for little ones to go to bed!

The play structure within the space is designed for ages 2-5, which can be hard on older kids who might feel like they’re missing out. We try to be as accommodating as possible but the structure is wooden and has load limits. We have to enforce age and/or weight restrictions, which is not fun for anyone but which must be done. We have other things like a giant tablet for bigger kids.

I have heard that shade has been thrown at visitors who don’t measure up somehow to the standards of others using the space. This makes me really sad. It is contrary to the spirit of the library and not fair. Please, please, be kind and generous to everyone in our library, and gently encourage tolerance in others. Love your neighbour. The library is for everyone.

Finally, I know all our new visitors have made our tight parking situation even tighter. There is unfortunately no easy solution to that. The Esplanade outdoor parking lot is free on weekends, River Dental and BrokerLink parking lots are available on Sundays and there is always on street parking available within a block or so. I hope we are worth a short walk.

Please note that we are closed on statutory holidays including Family Day on Feb. 17. We are going to leave our giant foam blocks out the rest of that week while the schools are closed for reading week.

Overall, the play space is a huge hit. We are very happy to see crowds of people in the library including new faces we haven’t seen before. Thanks again to Co-op and everyone else who made it possible. And thanks to library staff who make it happen every day.

Ken Feser is chief librarian at the Medicine Hat Public Library.

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