Parent Focus Groups

Parent Focus Groups

Suggestions for the New Southwest Library

What are your overall thoughts about the exterior and entrance of the new building? What would you like the character or feeling of the library to be? What would make it welcoming for you and your children?

I ould love the library to stand out in a whimsical way – saying to kids, “Hey, come here. It’s really fun inside.” Maybe a theater that has a manual clock with things that pop out of it.

Public art that is interactive.

Kids are always mesmerized by the mechanical things that wind up.

I like the idea of being able to see into the building from the outside. Lots of pre-teens and teens might be more encouraged to come inside if they saw others inside.

The entrance has to be inviting and clearly communicate that it is a library. Maybe a giant book on the clock.

I am imagining a U-shaped building with a central space outside that people can read. Tables and a fountain courtyard. Or like National Portrait Gallery’s atrium.

Public art that is interactive for kids where kids can play and move things around.

Maybe have an arts space with a resident artist that changes monthly. A space where staff can do programs with kids.

Internal space – currently is gloomy. The way shelves are positioned, it takes up too much space. Shelves could be movable like in a college library so that you can open up the center space and make more room for programs.

College libraries are interesting because the first floor doesn’t have books. They are gathering places.

Skylights. As much natural light as possible.

Lots of color in the finishes. Have furniture in bright colors. Fun chairs.

Circular design. Interior courtyard and then a circle around the courtyard.

Bright inside. Attractive landscaping

More windows. On the upper floors here, you can't see out the windows.

It took me a long time to figure out that this building is a library. It doesn’t really “say” library.

Libraries in Seattle are welcoming.

Even when you walk in, it does not feel like a place you want to hang out. The furniture is more functional than comfortable.

The layout here – when you walk in, you are already in. There should be some sort of greeting or transition that you are entering. I’d like to see a person in front of me when I walk in.

Do you have thoughts about which floor should house the children’s room and which floor should house the adult reading room/collection? Reasons Why?

I prefer the second floor. There is so much activity on the first floor, for safety, it is better to have them on the second floor.
For people who don’t have children, they don’t have to interact with kids.

Some people complain about noisy activities upstairs, so be sure to have good sound proofing.

No preference, but the elevator needs to be in a prominent spot and much larger.

I didn’t realize there was a kids’ portion of the library. Not even a sign telling you that the children’s room is upstairs.

Might be safer to have the children’s room on the second floor.

Wouldn’t want to bother the other patrons. School groups come here and make lots of noise.
A water fountain would be nice.

Children’s bathroom/Family bathroom would be nice. The population of kids in the neighborhood in the last 5 years has exploded.

Separate space is the key.

I like how there is a separate space for programming in the children’s room. Easier to have programs right there.
Space for arts and crafts.


What types of spaces should the children’s room have? When you think of the children’s room, what words come to mind?

Lots of color. Sneaky, whimsical stuff that kids can discover on their own.

Fun, playful shapes. Manipulatives to engage young children.

Kids are very visual with what they want to read. For younger kids, as they are trying to explore it would be fun to have “themed” areas, like adventure, oceans, science, animals. Define different spaces for different ages.

Put books facing out to make it easier for kids to discover things they are interested. Really think about display.

For older kids, have small rooms where they can meet in small groups and do homework or work on projects.

Nashville Public Library has a big bridge with a cityscape. It had pillows at the top where kids could recline and read. Made a puppet theater that looked like the actual library.

Playroom and light tables where kids can play with acrylic blocks.

Around the stacks, have openings with “bridges” that the kids could go through.

Arts & Crafts space.

Puppet theater/stage.

Space for play dates or birthday parties. Space that parents can reserve. No carpet so it is easy to clean.

Make sure the space has natural light.

Computer section for little kids.

Have separate areas for different age children. Right now, the older kids come use the computers upstairs. They can be loud.

Something with comfortable seating. Bright colors. Couches, bean bag chairs. Lightweight armless chairs. Cozy chairs like from Ikea.

Child-sized seating and tables. Rugs.

Little spaces for kids to thumb through books.

Are there programs for children that you would like to see take place at the Southwest Library but the current space is not conducive? If so, what type of programs would you like to see?

Digital Literacy program. Teaching kids how to use eBooks and other developmentally appropriate technology. Teach kids how to do proper research for older kids.

Also need to have digital-free spaces.

Writing workshops. Learn about free flow of thoughts and story telling.

More puppets.

Space for art programs. Artist in residence who works with kids

Music together program, like what they have at Southeast Library.

Some sort of attractive space where the community can organize something. Language classes taught by members of the community.

Pillar-free space for the meeting space.

You could have one large room with a room divider – it would have to really be sound-proofed.

The meeting room should not be in the basement.

Definitely need space for yoga and Zumba.

It would be helpful if some of the programs were on weekends. I work full-time, so I miss the opportunity. My child comes with his preschool, but I never get to participate in the children's programs.

STEM Education program is getting started at Amidon-Bowen. Hands-on projects. Talk with Amidon about how the library can reinforce the school’s STEM program. Every class should come to the library. I’d like to see more involvement with the library, more partnering between the library and DCPS.

It would be nice to have some half-day camps at the library during the summer. In week-long increments. Once kids transition to school, it is hard to get to the library.

It would also be a way for neighborhood kids who don’t go to the public school

DCPS professional development days the library could offer a one-day program. Would be a good way for people to meet each other.

DCPS Literacy Day. Some space where theater performances for kids could be held.

Computer lab area for kids.

We are so close to the Arena Stage. The library should have a partnership.

Shakespeare Theater is looking at moving into the neighborhood. They own land in the neighborhood. Consider artists in residence. Rehearsal space. Costume design.

Let’s talk about Technology.  What types of technology would you like the library to offer for children?
-public access computers
-Early learning stations
-laptop vs. desktop computer?
Other ideas?

Put a password on the early learning stations. Let parents also enter a time limit for their child.

Children are drawn to screens. You have to strike a balance between understanding that this is the age of digital. Kids need familiarity with a keyboard, but parents should be able to place limits on it. Allow the parent to choose what program they are going to play.

Kids mostly play games on the computers right now. Multi-player games – kids get rowdy.

Seems like the librarians spend a lot of time policing what the older kids are doing on the computers.

Maybe have a media room or staff who can monitor or offer instruction.
How about a touch screen table that lets kids “draw”?

It would be nice to have a Smart Board in a media room where kids can learn.

Computer classes. Photo Shop training. Tailor some classes to kids. Learn how to make a PowerPoint and other skills they need for schools.

3-D printer.

Photo copier.

Upgrade the WiFi. It is slow.

Digital screens that show themes or artist of the month.
I haven’t encountered the AWLS station.

Have a separate space for computers. Having a separate space makes it less distracting for kids who don’t want to be using the computers. Kids can get loud when they are playing on the computer.

Bring in distance learning. Video conference capability. Might be a way to offer programming without having it physically at the library.

Would you like to see an Outdoor Space incorporated into the design? A space where customers could sit and read or that could accommodate small programs?

We could have an enclosed yard that is just for the library. Still have space outside that draws people in.

Would be nice to have space outside to do gardening programs (currently there is space out back).

Most people walk to the library. Prioritize green space over parking.

The neighborhood is getting so built up that we need green space. There is still street parking. Do not prioritize parking.

Give consideration to shifting the entrance to the side facing the playground. It will get a lot of foot traffic. The new building across the street will block the view to the library.

Vines or something incorporated into the design. Urban gardening on the roof.


A train table

They are going to build across the street. The library is going to get “lost” -- cut-off from 4th Street. It might still be good to face Wesley Place. Having a direct path to the duck pond will be the connection, so the entrance should face the entrance.

Everything needs to be wide enough for strollers. Front door now is automatic, but nothing tells you that it is automatic.

Picnic tables or seating out front.

Changing tables in all bathrooms

Think about what it is going to take to keep families in the neighborhood and committed to the schools. It is so important to partner with the schools. The library should work to support every grade’s cornerstone theme. Reinforce what is going on in the schools.

 Host programs like bring an astronaut; NASA offices are close by.