Friday, June 07, 2013

My Tree House: the world's first green library for kids

A few months ago, when we visited the Central Public Library at Bras Basah, the library was having an activity to vote for a mascot for the new children's section. Nothing much was revealed, only that the newly revamped children's section would be environmentally friendly. There were five animals to choose from - rabbit, crocodile, squirrel, fox and chameleon. We voted for the squirrel, looking forward to find out what this new library will look like.

Last week, we were invited to visit the new My Tree House, the world's first green library for children. And our first reactions? Wow!

Front picture

We were greeted by this beautiful entrance, which evokes a magical sense of forest adventure and is a great way to entice young children. EV and I walked into the newly designed children's section. and we got yet another surprise. At the centre of the section is the 'tree house'. That was just the beginning of the many green features here. 

Storytime

While EV was intently listening to the story, mummy had a chance to check out the rest of the new section.

So just how green is this library? Think of over 3000 recycled plastic bottles painted in green and yellow to create the 'canopy' of the tree house, recycled materials for the tree trunk, bookshelves, ceiling and wall boards, as well as LED lights. 

Recycled stuff

What's really amazing is the collection of books. A whopping 45,000 books, 30% of which are green-themed, non-fiction books on topics such as animals, plants, nature, weather, water, environment and recycling. Perfect for parents to educate their children about the world around them.

The new design also incorporates many interactive features, such as a shadow play wall installation set in an enchanted forest which prompts environmentally friendly questions and receives answers through shadows. There is also the weather stump, which shows real-time weather information such as temperature, wind speed and rainfall, based on data collected by the Meteorological Service Singapore over a 24-hour period at the Marina Barrage Station. 

Interactive

There are also two eReading kiosks which allow kids to read eBooks or play educational games.

Computers

We also like the warning signs around the tree house, to warn children not to climb and to be careful of their heads. 

Warning signs

Opposite the tree house is a very cosy reading area. With a big mushroom as the centerpiece, book shelves lining the wall and comfy cushions all around, it makes a great chill out area for both kids and parents as they find their favourite books. Check out those jigsaw puzzle-shaped cushions. Great as stools, but I think that children will end up playing with them instead of sitting on them. Similarly, children will end up climbing on some of the structures in this area, like what EV is doing here.

Mushroom reading area

But that's why I think the new revamp will be a big hit with the kids. I mean, they are not going to be obediently searching for books, or sitting there reading or listening to their parents reading to them. Kids being kids, they will get fidgety and distracted. These stools and structures become handy distractions to keep them entertained for a while, before they are ready to focus back on the task at hand. Of course, we as parents will be close to make sure they do not hurt themselves or disturb other fellow library users.

What is really inspiring are the many crafts and structures made from paper and cardboard, such as the paper windmills and butterflies at the book shelves and these cute origami animals.

Craft cats

And this gigantic Super Mario Bros structure too.

Super mario bros

So creative! Really makes me inspired to do more crafts with EV at home. That's not all. Move to the main library area and one will see two red robots, a giraffe and a rabbit, complete with a carrot. Yup, there is EV trying to feed the rabbit.

Bunny  red robot

At the lobby on the first floor, there is a big gigantic tree made of cardboard with a hanging monkey inside it, several cardboard vehicles, and another big robot. EV almost went crazy with those cardboard aeroplane and helicopter and car; I had to pry her away from them.

Monkey at first floor

My verdict? The new children's section is so fun, I want to go back again! I'm sure EV feels the same way too. Hmmm… we might just sneak in a visit this weekend, since our current books are due soon.

Oh yes, which animal won? The squirrel, of course!

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