Libraries have always helped people explore their world through books and media, but in July, Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) takes the exploration outdoors with the county's first outdoor library space, Discover Together.
Thanks in part to generous donors who provided seed funding for the Library’s first outdoor learning environment, the space is set to open Saturday, July 20, 9 a.m. – noon, with an open house.
The Discover Together: Outdoor Adventure Space, designed by Learning Landscapes, provides tools and opportunities for children to engage in unstructured play in an outdoor environment. In addition, it extends the Library’s commitment to help children be ready to read when they enter kindergarten and continue to support their learning as they grow.
“We’re excited to see our patrons begin exploring,” said Barbara Yeutter Roig, JCPL’s Kids and Families Manager. “We know that unstructured play helps children develop skills in gross and fine motor skills, creativity and socialization. Offering these activities in the out-of- doors also encourages exercise and contributes to emotional and physical health.”
Located outside the children’s area on the east side of the Library, the space includes two separate play areas, with physical features including sensory and habitat gardens, benches and fairy stumps, as well as tools to spark imaginative play and learning, including a willow dome and materials found in nature to spark creativity. An insect hotel, constructed as an Eagle Scout project by 17-year-old William Webster from Arvada, gives bugs a place to live and patrons a window into their worlds.
Inspired by the National Park’s Junior Ranger Program, patrons can earn a special library explorer badge after completing outdoor activities and taking a pledge to always be curious and exploring.
“We are grateful to Allison Brigham and her father, Arvada resident Warren Roeske, whose generosity helped bring the project to reality,” said Donna Walker, executive director. “What a wonderful way to honor his wife, Shirley M. Roeske, who was an ardent Library advocate.” M.W.H Funding also contributed $35,000 to the project.