Modern libraries are reimagining their spaces as more than repositories for books. The Play-and-Learn Spaces project married developmental science with the changing nature of 21st century libraries. The study asked if it is possible to augment learning in informal spaces using the built environment to encourage discourse and interaction. For this project, the library space was reconstructed such that a corner became a climbing wall on which children could create words by following varied paths up the wall's letter-filled surface. Seating was transformed into large movable “Tangram”-type pieces and a stage, complete with magnetic words, invited children to create stories on the wall and complete story-related activities through socio-dramatic play. Using naturalistic observation, results demonstrated that the use of the Play-and-Learn spaces was associated with increases in the kinds of caregiver and child conversation and interaction known to support language, literacy and STEM skills. These results suggest that libraries can become part of a new learning culture that impacts city residents at the places they naturally go.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Information Systems
- Library and Information Sciences