A Place to Play: An Assessment of a Public Library’s Play Centers

Stephanie Smallwood, Jeannine Birkenfeld


Play is vital for early learning. It is not ‘recess’ or a ‘timeout’ from learning, rather it IS the way young children learn.” Because play is the foundation of early learning, the Springfield-Greene County (MO) Library District (SGCL) installed Racing to Read Play & Learn Centers with toys and accompanying activities in their children’s departments at all ten branches seven years ago. These centers have been well received, but SGCL staff wanted to determine the value to families in the community and the level of kindergarten readiness provided by the centers. A formal evaluation would help library staff learn how families used the centers, how they could be improved, and opportunities for center growth and development.

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Sue McCleaf Nespeca, “The Importance of Play, Particularly Constructive Play, in Public Library Programming,” Importance of Play Whitepaper, Association for Library Service to Children, September 10, 2012, http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/Play_formatted.pdf.

“Quick Facts Greene County, Missouri,” United States Census Bureau, accessed August 10, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/map/greenecountymissouri/PST045217#viewtop.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/cal.16.4.9


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