Children’s laughter. Dancing feet. Spinning gears. Tapping blocks. A child’s emotional appeal to stay “just a few more minutes.” These hallmarks of play are the soundtrack of the reimagined second floor at Cumberland County’s Headquarters Library in downtown Fayetteville.
The second floor of Headquarters Library has been redesigned to appeal to youths of all ages, from birth to teenager, and their families.
Incorporating feedback from the community and staff, the initiative is two years in the making. The project seeks to integrate innovative programming and active learning spaces to help the library best serve the county’s diverse population.
After the library received a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the State Library of North Carolina, exciting things began to arrive, all selected for their encouragement of S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning through play.
First on the scene was the LiteZilla, a colossal 8-by-6-foot light wall, which immediately captures the attention and imagination of all ages entering the children’s area. Since then, the space introduced a Flight Lab wind tunnel, an 8-foot construction crane for assembling foam block structures, a suite of microscopes and X-ray light tables, a life-size human skeleton (with removable organs for the bold), and building materials made of wooden planks, straws and connectors and magnet tiles.
A newly created teen space features a series of engaging attractions, including a bumper pool table, tabletop and videogaming areas, oversized versions of classic board games and a host of whiteboard tables perfect for collaboration or artistic expression.
The project doesn’t end there. Cumberland County Public Library hopes to introduce additional large-scale S.T.E.A.M. installations in the future, with a train table and an interactive health and wellness exhibit topping the wish list.
The second floor will also host a programming makerspace featuring 3D printers, Cricuts, a Glowforge laser cutter, sewing machines, robotics and more. This makerspace is set to enter its initial launch phase later this autumn.
The philosophy on the second floor is to explore, connect and renew together. Youths and families in our community are welcome to engage freely. The space offers both a lively learning zone, with related books displayed throughout, and traditional stacks across the floor with quieter spaces for studying and reading.
If you haven’t visited Headquarters Library lately, come by and you might find it appealing to the young people in your life and likely the kid in you, too.
The grant is made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Andrea Gehringer is the learning and innovation librarian at the Headquarters Library.