This summer Jo Yang spent four weeks in Seoul, Korea. She visited a very special library there. Songpa-Gu is the Sister City of Christchurch. I remember about three years ago when Songpa-Gu was in need of some children’s English books, Upper Riccarton Library assisted. So I was excited to visit this library and see what they had done.
The Songpa Children’s Library was first opened in 2009, located in a convenient living area of Songpa-Gu in Seoul. There is lots of transportation and children and adults can get to the library quickly and easily. The main customers of this library are children under the age of 13 with their families.
The building has an underground floor which houses quality study rooms. The ground floor has a special area where parents and younger children can access a range of children’s books. There are fun designated reading areas such as the story telling room which is shaped like an igloo.
The first floor was designed for primary school kids, and the second floor has a conference room where performance, speech and teaching can be done. The roof has a garden with tables and chairs for eating or an outside read.
What makes this library unique is that the maintenance of books and book repair are done by volunteers who live in the Songpa-Gu. The elderly, who are also volunteers, teach children about the history and culture of Korea. High school students have the role of being children’s book buddies by reading them books and teaching them. This Library also has the Book Start for new born babies (like our Books for Babies), meeting the authors of children’s books, and an English book club for kids. To make it even more interesting for the children, the Library is constantly developing new ideas for the children to have a fun time. The Songpa Children’s Library is a typical public library in that the library has connected well with their community.
There are some interesting programming ideas for New Zealand libraries to consider. Firstly, the Library Attitude class for kids discusses behaviour and manners in the library with staff. The children then make something like bookmarks with reminders of good etiquette written on them, to earn points on their star charts. Secondly, there is a Human Library, in which people share knowledge and skills. The human “books” might be retired people who can share their knowledge, or perhaps a great cook or a cool musician. Lastly, there is a programme called Parental Care. They teach pregnant women how to take care of their baby through a connection with the library; by reading a book, listening to music, or craft time making bibs and socks for their unborn babies.
Article by Jo Yang and Rachael Chamberlain