by Laura Kocum
on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at 10:07am.
You won't be "shushed" at Dane County libraries. Programs like beer-making, coloring for adults, and poetry writing are engaging patrons and creating new conversations. And while the library continues to be a key location for books and literacy, programs are expanding to include so much more. Tana Elias, Digital Services and Marketing Director for the Madison Public Library, says the library is growing as a place for hands on learning, with programs aimed at getting the community together, starting meaningful conversations and building new bridges.
An example of this is "The Bubbler," a hands on initiative launched with the construction of the new Madison Central Library. Current events on the Bubbler's page include an art car derby, an up-cycled tee shirt workshop and mask making. More traditional programming is there too- resume writing workshops and social media training are offered. The Central Library aims to attract users with its digital labs, coffee shop feel and regular classes for all ages. They are creating an environment of exploration, cultural literacy and lifelong learning.
It's not just about the adults. Pour through the wide range of programs offered through the South Central Library System, and you'll find meetings on topics like lego robotics, candy-themed science experiments, and clubs for anime and Minecraft lovers. So what does Minecraft have to do with reading skills? "A lot of it is digital literacy- and teaching kids programming and animation creation," Elias says. The library wants to be a key place to teach these skills, and encourage excitement and confidence as users discover new technology.
Preschool story times are still a key part of what these libraries are doing, but they're also noting a need for open play space. The Central Library offers a variety of play spaces and an iPad bar. The Pinney Library is next to be developed, and it will include an early learning play lab, a hands on area much like you'd find at a children's museum. Libraries outside of Madison are offering similar spaces. Verona has a castle for reading, and multiple themed play spaces. Fitchburg and Deforest, among others, have active program schedules and excellent spaces for both reading and play.
No matter where you choose to live in Dane County, you're sure to enjoy a library nearby. Make some noise, explore your creative side, and make the most of the library offerings near you.
Photos by Shanna Wolf and the Madison Public Library