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Ingenuity in the children's room

Published 12:40 pm, Friday, April 11, 2014
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Since the Darien Library's new building opened five years ago, more than 1,800 librarians have traveled from across the country to learn more about its success -- primarily in the children's room.

Libraries are meticulously organized through the Dewey Decimal System. Each book has a place and is arranged in alphabetical order, a system that works for young adult and adult books. Usually, readers are searching for a particular author rather than subject matter.

That's not the case for children.

When the new facility was built at 1441 Post Road, the children's library was reorganized by subject rather than author, making it easier for parents and children to find books about a particular topic.

The result was a 400 percent increase in children's book circulation following the opening of the library's new location, former library director Louise Berry said.

"This was seen as groundbreaking," Library Journal editor-in-chief Rebecca Miller said. "It taught a lot of people about how the library could be used. They had the insight to say there could be a better way to do this and then ask what is our mission and what's the barrier."

Library Director Alan Gray recalls seeing a grandfather and his grandson enter the children's library. The little boy led his grandfather by the hand to the section of books he wanted.

The subjects are also color-coordinated, allowing children to be able to navigate the section on their own.