The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Art among books at the Brookline Public Library

Sapphire the Dragon is an example of the Brookline Public Library’s passive programming. She sparks many conversations about how she was made and entertains children with a letter writing activity.

Children crowd around the two-story, green Victorian dollhouse in the library, peering curiously through the protective plexiglass covering, eager to complete the scavenger hunt set up within.

The Brookline Public Library is well-known for its various displays of patrons’ collections. It is easy to spot the dollhouse and dragon propped in plain view of the childrens’ room, and just outside the room displays of children’s lego collections and book collections can be found. In this way, the library offers more than just books to the community.

Librarians work together to build the displays over the course of several months before projects are put out for the public. Once done, Julie Kellndorfer, the Youth Service Supervisor at the library, said that the projects serve as conversation topics for anyone who sees them.

“It’s something really unique and different about our library compared to other libraries,” Kellndorfer said. “I think that really connects people too. Especially if they’re talking about the library elsewhere, a lot of people will mention the dragon and be like, ‘Oh, did you know they had a dragon?’ ”

The dollhouse, originally belonging to the teen librarian Robin Brenner, was incomplete when donated by Brenner’s parents. Library staff worked together to piece it into the Victorian style house it is now, styling each room to a separate time period to give people creative storytelling control, according to Brenner.

“All the different staff each got their own room and they got to decide what it looked like and what they were going to furnish it,” Brenner said. “We deliberately decided not to put any people in the house because we want people to imagine who might live there rather than give them a set example.”

This type of activity is common in the library’s passive programming, which are activities that don’t require librarian supervision. Sasha Zeidenberg, Children’ Librarian Assistant, said that when planning passive activities they make sure that there is an interactive component, such as a scavenger hunt or the letters to Sapphire, the blue dragon set up between the teen, tween and childrens’ rooms.

For the dollhouse, the librarians set up word searches for kids to fill out based on items within the rooms. Meanwhile, the dragon has paper, pencils and a mailbox for kids to write letters to her. These allow the projects to stay interactive without being constantly supervised.

Brenner said they often see bonds forming as children search within the dollhouse walls or stare up at the dragon’s intricately scaled face.

“There’s a lot of parents that bring their kids to see the dragon. And then they will ask us questions about the dragon,” Brenner said.

Scattered around the lower floor of the library are a series of other display cases, one in both the tween and teen rooms respectively. The teen room also displays teen artwork on the wall. The librarians switch up these cases usually every two weeks to keep it fresh.

“We are about to put up a display on the wall for a class project that they do every year and they bring it in and we put it up on display. So all of those spaces are intended for community use to show off different aspects of what they’re doing and to make the space connected to them.” Brenner said.

Zeidenberg is always thinking about what to do next. Zeidenberg said she hopes to adopt some practices from her old library into the Brookline branch.

“Once we had a giant coloring sheet the size of the full table in the children’s room. I would love to bring that one back,” Zeidenberg said. “I think it could be fun to have kids propose ideas for book displays.”

Kellndorfer said the main point of all the displays and activities is to provide an easy way for the community to engage and come together. Kellndorfer said the library hopes to display what people want in the library.

“I think people in the community just think that it’s cool to see what other people are interested in and what other people are proud of and want to put on display,” Kellndorfer said. “Just knowing that the community really likes all the displays just inspires us to do different things with it.”

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