Seeing libraries through the eyes of children and young people

Sutherland Shire Council

Sutherland Library Strategy and Facilities Plan

We know that children and young people use libraries; it is often where they pick up a love for stories and reading and in the process develop their early literacy practices for lifelong learning. Traditionally, library services have been extremely successful at catering to these needs; however, in recent years, libraries across the world have been transforming to also encourage discovery, play, creativity, imagination and social bonding.

Cred Consulting had the fantastic opportunity to work with Sutherland Shire Council on their Library Strategy and Facilities Plan. To help Sutherland Shire future-proof libraries and meet the needs and aspirations of the 20th century users, we asked children and young people “What is your dream library and what would you like to do there?”

Lessons we learnt

We were thrilled to hear from 485 children, and they told us future libraries should be a welcoming, inclusive, accessible and a safe place for all, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background or ability. Needless to say, we were comforted the future belonged in these children’s hands.

Important lessons we learnt from our little geniuses on what future libraries should look and feel like include:

  • friendly staff who are located at the entrance of libraries to create an inviting and welcoming experience
  • a fun and playful place, with the play area located away from reading areas so as not to disturb people
  • modern, colourful, cosy and bright design and décor with ample outdoor-indoor spaces with natural light, trees and gardens
  • comfortable and colourful with a variety of furniture that is movable to create different layouts as needed
  • peaceful and dedicated study areas that have different spaces for casual reading and group study
  • clear visible rules and signage that specify where you can be loud and study together, and where you can be quiet and read or study by yourself
  • plenty of technological devices such as computers and tablets for gaming, watching shows and to research books
  • art and craft areas with access to materials they would not have access to otherwise such as professional pencils and paints, and various forms of art in the facilities
  • food and drinks inside of future libraries with the ability to purchase food from a cafe in the library, a food trolley or a vending machine
  • a variety of programs and activities such as story time, author talks, workshops, rhyme time, book weeks, cultural festivals, and social clubs such as maths and science clubs.

How we used this knowledge

We developed an infrastructure plan along with a community design brief that translates the local communities’ aspirations into design guidelines that can be used to improve and refurbish existing library facilities, as well as inform the planning and delivery of future libraries.

The Library Strategy and Facilities Plan is currently on exhibition. Have Your Say.