Library as Buffet

Confederation Centre Public Library Oliver is quite a book fanatic. He comes by this honestly, of course: he’s got two grandmothers who worked as kindergarten teachers (one of whom was a librarian too, in later life), and four uncles with razor sharp minds. To say nothing of his grandfathers (scientist and farmer) and mother (artist). Put that all together and you get a well-rounded set of influences, and a diverse set of interests.

Which is why, for Oliver, a visit to the public library is like a visit to a candy store.

Now that Catherine is painting every night, Oliver and I need a suite of activities to fill up our evenings, and the library qualifies for duty. And so off we went tonight.

Evenings at the Confederation Centre Public Library are a great time to visit, as all bona fide children are, at least in theory, at home snug in bed.

As childrens’ libraries go, the Confederation Centre was not dealt a great hand: it’s on the second floor (which means a long flight of stairs, or risking one’s life in an elevator that has a sign pasted on it that says “look down before entering” — really!). The space is cramped (perhaps cozy?) There’s not a lot of space to curl up with a book. And the acoustics of the place are better suited to tuba recitals than quite contemplation (whose idea was it to design a library like a church anyway?).

But that all said, the librarians have molded it into a pretty special place. There are books, of course, but also dress-up clothes, a toy castle and toy people, a giant bumble bee, a puppet theatre and lots of chairs with tennis balls on the feet (see “acoustics” above). There’s even a life-size cast statue of Peter Pan.

Oliver’s practise at the library is to spend his entire visit like a manic racoon. He grabs a book from the shelf, brings it to me, we read the first few pages, he places it on the table and goes to get another book, repeats. Then he plays with the giant bumble bee for a while. Then more books. Then a set with the castle people. More books. Perhaps some magazines for effect. Then we go.

It’s a little bit un-library-like for the father looking on, but at this stage building a respect for and joy of the booky arts is the goal; quite contemplation can wait.


Matt's picture
Matt on January 8, 2003 - 16:31 Permalink

And let’s not forget Barb Kissick, the fine librarian who puts on some of the coolest puppet shows in the land.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 8, 2003 - 19:25 Permalink

Our kids use the Hunter River branch and one of the nice things the provincial system does is rotate kids books through the branches so that the selection is never the saem, hte kids want to go agains and again and I don’t have to read the same stuff at night over and over.