Children’s libraries have always been in the inspiration business – many a young mind has found their natural sense of wonder nurtured by attentive library staff. But kid’s imaginations grow quickly. It isn’t always easy to implement new methods of teaching and new services that will keep children interested. In 2009 the Aarhus Public Library in Denmark showed the world how technology can help libraries catch up to the expectation of their youngest users.
The Children’s Interactive Library in Aarhus, Denmark is a fine example of a library’s ability to adapt and innovate to meet the growing needs of 21st century kids. The Library is based on the idea that kids want to do more than just receive information quietly and passively. Not only do youngsters want to see, touch and interact with their environment – they want to help shape it. Nearly every physical object in the Library is interactive and meant to be touched, listened to or played with in some fashion.
Seeing is believing, so check out their video here:
-The iTable is a large, horizontal video screen displaying a map of the city. Kids move game pieces around the map and collaborate to solve puzzles and riddles. Each game they win rewards them with an educational vignette or a video on Denmark’s history.
-No one ever gets shushed in Aarhus. Sounds is used not only to stimulate but to educate. The Library is peppered with listening stations that allow kids to listen to music or learn about the library’s services. The best part is that all sounds are delivered using special sound-orientating speakers. Even without headphones, sound waves are targeted so they can be heard clearly without disturbing other users.
-The Bibphone is a device that allows kids to interact with physical materials in a way never before possible. Kids can hold the phone up to any book in the library and record their own annotations, reviews or secret messages. The recordings are transferred to an RFID chip placed inside the book. Other children can come by at a later date and listen messages from their friends.
-At Aarhus, even the floor is interactive. The StorySurfer is a huge touch sensitive floor that allows kids to search the Aarhus catalogue, literally by walking around inside of it.
By incorporating fun and play into the library experience, Aarhus has not only ensured that children will keep coming back, but has allowed them to play major roles in shaping library services.