Kids belong in libraries. That’s not too radical of a thing to state — or surprising, coming from the Youth Services Coordinator. It’s my job to make kids (and families) feel welcome in our libraries and to help provide programming and outreach that our younger patrons will enjoy. 

We want kids to grow up in our branches — to experience the joys of reading and learning through storytime, engaging in social programs as teens, and becoming lifelong learners as adults. 

I want the record to show that I don’t do this alone. I have plenty of help in this endeavor. Each one of our branches has staff who care about engaging with our young patrons. 

We have a lot to offer kids and teens here at JCLS: a robust collection and a myriad of programs, but something we provide that is often overlooked is space.  

Our libraries are a place where people can read, play, study, learn, or be. This is true for all of our patrons, no matter their age. 

All of our branches do this well, but I wanted to highlight a specific branch — Central Point — because it shines when it comes to having youth-friendly spaces.* 

*I’m purposely not including Medford and Ashland branches in this assessment because their buildings are bigger and allow for separate departments and staff devoted to youth services. In the rest of our branches, space and staff are shared. 

Although it’s not in a large metropolitan city, the view of the street and concrete make this library feel more urban than some of our other branches. But the inside softens this hard exterior. 

When you walk through the doors of the Central Point branch, you are immediately greeted with color. The wall behind the circ desk is a bright, welcoming blue. 

And then you’re left with a decision. 

Over to the left is the children’s area. Here, our young patrons can play at the play table — which hosts a Lego table, a light table, and a train table — or sit and read a book on any of the fun seating options. This children’s space welcomes active play. Children experience the world through play. Play is how they develop fine and gross motor skills, cognitive concepts, language, and social skills. Play is crucial to child development, and this branch does a great job of providing space for that. 

To the right, is the teen area and Spark Space. Spark Space is a digital play space featuring science, technology, engineering, math, and digital arts resources. So, whether a teen is into robotics, coding, or creative design — this space has something to spark those interests. It’s also just a cool place to hang out in. 

Both of these spaces are large. Both spaces can be seen right when you walk in, and both of these spaces say, “we want you here.” 

With the addition of Spark Space, the Central Point branch was one of the first branches to get a significant remodel focused on youth spaces and has been a blueprint of sorts for the rest of our branches.  

Adults, don’t worry; you are not forgotten here at Central Point. There is space for you here, too. 

The spaces, paired with displays and thoughtful and engaging programs, make this branch a great branch to grow up in.  

As you read about and hopefully visit our branches, I invite you to look at ways they not only welcome youth, but how they welcome you.