Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen

Realdania

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The library in the Children's Capital

"Billund is the Children's Capital. Here, children learn through play and are creative, global citizens." This is the wording of the vision for Billund Library, which opened a new world of play, inspiration and creativity in 2016. The newly refurbished library was nominated for the Danish Design Award in the spring of 2016.

The journey

The journey begins on an island. From here, it is just a short run into the desert, maybe with a detour up into the termite tower. The trip continues up into the mountains, before you land on the plains. A short jump, and you land in the sea, where you can hang out in a giant jellyfish.

This may sound like an exotic journey, but no – this is simply what it looks like when you visit the library in Billund. Billund is a town located in Jutland, Denmark, and here is also the main office of LEGO as well as the amusement park LEGOLAND situated. The journey through the newly refurbished library feels almost like an entire voyage of discovery, which tickles both your curiosity and your zest for experience. The Island, the Desert, the Mountains, the Plains and the other places are not just signposts. Instead, the places have been created by means of bookcases, furniture, a slide, dens, tables and boxes – all in organic shapes, different heights and lots of colours.

The Desert inspires children to explore.

The spatial differentiation creates conditions for both children and adults, supporting a variety of learning situations and possibilities of acquiring knowledge – from concentration and in-depth studies to experimental, creative and physical activity. Billund Library is the place where children walk on the bookcases.

A world of inspiration

A visit to the library should be an inspiring, active and educational journey, during which you are met by worlds that surprise, inspire and offer knowledge in new and imaginative ways. In the Desert, books are displayed at children's level in the form of little landscapes for the children to climb and sit on. In the Mountains, the landscape also encourages children to stay or move around, and the many inviting niches with books and other materials invite children to go exploring.

Children explore the possibilities of the Desert. In the background, you can just make out how the books are displayed in the Mountains.

Billund Library has continually invited the municipality's institutions on guided tours, taking the children on a journey through the library. The library focuses particularly on the exciting geographical elements, and these are verbalised for the children. This means that the children will use the area names extensively when later, they visit the library again.

Meeting place

On the trip around the library, you are met by a variety of lounge, meeting and study areas, which create the settings for different types of meetings.

The long table in the Space (the adults' zone) is a very frequently used meeting place. Here, the library's visitors hold small meetings, schoolchildren do group work, and study circles meet to discuss. But the table is also used by people who have waiting time to kill in Billund.

The number of young people who use the library's facilities has increased significantly. They meet in e.g. the Ocean Jellyfish, or in the GameZone. Families with young children, who use the library more often, stay in the play areas. Nursery schools also visit more frequently, as do child-minders and young mothers' groups. International citizens in particular have embraced the library, as until recently, they lacked a meeting place for both children and adults. All groups tend to spend more time at the library now than they did before the renovation.

The library is turned into a meeting and assembly place, for instance by holding concerts and readings in the Mountains. The library also continually collaborates with the music school to put on concerts at the library.

Reading in the Mountain area. In the background, you see the Ocean Jellyfish, where the older children lounge about.

Play and learning

The entire library is an experience and learning space. Children and adults alike are driven by curiosity to explore and experiment. This is done in different ways, together or alone, and by using different means. For instance via the interactive book machine, which shows available books, or via the book scanner, which supplies further information about material of current interest, links to e-books, audiobooks, articles from the Danish literature website Litteratursiden, and much more. Children can explore changing themes via games, images or videos on iPads placed in the Desert and on the Island.

Billund Library offers a variety of possibilities for activating knowledge and working with learning. From welcoming meeting and assembly places to special places for concentration, and exploration areas that call for the body to be involved.

At the Maker Space, Maker Thursdays are held. These primarily feature open workshops for children aged 9 to 16 – a chance to build with motors, LED lights, batteries, LEGO Technic, cardboard and much more. As an example, Billund Library collaborates with the LEGO Foundation, testing new experimental activities that strengthen learning through play.

In addition, workshops are held for adults, both in the morning and in the evening, e.g. on concrete or origami.

In the Maker Space, children work with e.g. LED lights, batteries and recycled jam jars to make lamps.

A visit to Billund Library is an inspiring, active and educational journey. It is a world of inspiration for both children and adults with a focus on play, learning and creativity. This is where body and imagination are activated.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have any comments to this case, or if you have a library or a similar institution in Denmark or another country that you think, would provide other public libraries with inspiration for new interior design and layout solutions, please feel free to contribute via our Facebook group.

05. Jan 2017 at. 09:57

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