LLC Loves libraries! In celebration of National Library Week we’re giving you a look inside some of our favorite libraries. Going beyond the books to the amenities, programs, and features that make them our favorite places. Today we are visiting the Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee.
I grew up in Gurnee and enjoyed many of the perks this former small town had to offer in the 1970s and 1980s. The original Warren-Newport Public Library (WNPL) leased space inside the Gurnee Community Bank building on the corner of Route 21 and Grand Avenue for years. From those humble beginnings, a new, larger stand alone location was built on O’Plaine Road in 1978. While I have fond memories of my library days, the new and improved WNPL (renovated in 1997 and again in 2011) is something pretty state-of-the-art and amazing! In an age when all we “need” to know is literally at our fingertips, many libraries have evolved to keep relevant, and WNPL has definitely gone “beyond the books” to attract children of all ages to this educational, fun and welcoming space.
When we first walked in the doors, we were immediately greeted and directed toward the youth areas. As we made our way, the girls were enthralled with a miniature white Lego model of the library. Once we checked it out completely, we made our way to the Youth Services Desk and were once again greeted and informed of the different youth areas: Coco’s Cove (birth-kindergarten), The Point (grades 1-5) and The Vault (grades 6-12).
A Place for Children of All Ages
I had the pleasure of visiting the library twice in the past month. The first time, I attended their ever-popular “after hours” Bingo in the Books fundraiser, which took place in their largest, light-filled meeting room. The second visit was with my three young daughters during the day when we could fully explore all the cool things WNPL has to offer kids. We did not explore the adult spaces and services the library provides during this visit but if they are anything like the youth programming, I’m guessing they are top-notch.
My girls are three and a half and almost six, so we decided to check out Coco’s Cove first. This super-large and bright room has SO MANY books. It’s book heaven for little kids! They are organized very well and laid out forward-facing for children to see the colorful covers, not just the spines. This area has an interactive and fun play area where we spent most of our time. This space is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and included benches, adult chairs, and kiddy chairs. There is a large Lego table, as well as a large magnet board with letters and numbers that kept my kids busy. There is a large wall of foam shapes with Velcro, many tables with puzzles, bead mazes, interactive wall puzzles and games, and racks with kids’ magazines (along with a few for adults hanging with their kids in the space).
But the highlight of course (alas, it is 2018) was the iPad kiosk! There are three stations which worked great for my girls. There are apps loaded onto the iPads to entertain and teach, and all of my girls found something on their own that interested them, from a cool drawing app to a read/sing-along Daniel Tiger app. But there are so many other items to explore and discover in this space, my kids easily moved from the iPads to play with Lego, wall puzzles and all of the interactive learning items.
The Point is designed for children in first through fifth grades, and when you see it you’ll understand why it’s called The Point. The library really wants each area to feel comfortable for the intended ages and nicely suggests that if you’re not that age, they can help you find your space. However if I could’ve stayed there, I would have—it was so cool! We were there right before school let out and all the kids came hurrying in with smiles (literally).
This area has giant Connect Four games, benches, couches, fun stools, and even a large television and gaming console (with designated gaming times throughout the week)! There are multiple four-top tables with various games (Spot it, Uno, puzzles), and tall tables for homework and drop-in craft and group activities. The Point also has an OSMO gaming center, which is an award-winning iPad system that helps kids “play beyond the screen,” fostering creativity and problem-solving.
Designed for teens in sixth through twelfth grade, The Vault is a super-hip section of the library with its own door and a coffee shop/bookstore vibe. We didn’t spend much time in this section, as it was now after school and we didn’t want to disturb the teens in their space. However, The Vault had a gaming console as well, really cool lighting, and special tables laid out with popular books, and a librarian just for them! They offer many teen-focused events and services, including Teen Tech Week, Maker Monday (crafting things like duct tape flowers and Perler bead coasters) and Fandom Club (to celebrate favorite books, T.V. shows, music, movies).
WNPL has evolved over the years and is truly a special place. With so many services and spaces thoughtfully designed for children of all ages, there is literally something for everyone here. Check it out during National Library Week April 9-13 or any other time, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s National Library Week! The Warren-Newport Public Library is holding a Peep Diorama Contest-see the website for more information. The showcase is on Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
What is your family’s favorite activity at the Warren-Newport Public Library?