As I overheard a mother talking to her toddler the other day, I was struck by something important. She was saying, “Are you ready to go say goodbye to the bunny?” The bunny is a puppet I bought on an expedition to Milwaukee some 20+ years ago. It’s always been a particularly endearing puppet. Its home for the past 5 or so years has been in a hole in the tree at the entryway to the Youth Services Department. Kids love to come and see the bunny, and families have incorporated it into their library visits (and smart parents have learned to use it as a way to get their little ones back out of the library). It’s just a bunny puppet in a pretend hole! But they love it.
They also love this:
It’s the line that some wise person incorporated into the carpet that leads from the front of the department past the desk and toward the books. Often you can sit at the desk and watch as a small child walks in a relatively normal way into the department, and suddenly they take a sharp turn, and then another turn. When they do that, you know they are walking on the blue line. It seems to bring them a lot of joy.
And that’s my point. We are spending lots of time and effort to prepare our Youth Services departments to welcome young visitors and their families, but we need to never forget that for little ones just as it is for us, it is the little things in life that make a difference. We may think they’ll remember the giant summer reading club game or the amazing magician who came or the fantastic prize they got, but I suspect that for many kids, the memories they will carry from the library will be those little details that someone got right, whether on purpose or by a lucky accident.