3 April 2023

Cootamundra Library to trial sensory reading space during Easter holidays

| Jarryd Rowley
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woman reading to kids

Cootamundra War Memorial Library’s sensory space will be offered every day during the Easter school holidays between 2 pm and 4 pm. Photo: Cootamundra War Memorial Library Facebook.

The Cootamundra War Memorial Library will trial a new quiet reading space for children with heightened sensory needs during the Easter school holidays.

The two-week trial will run from Monday, 1o April, to Friday, 21 April, between 2 pm and 4 pm and consist of secluded and quiet reading tents as well as soft toys/reading buddies for children to use.

The trial will be run to gauge demand for a quieter reading period and space, with feedback from carers and parents vital to whether the move will continue.

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Cootamundra librarian Rochelle Nichols said spaces like the ones set to be used were becoming more common in highly populated areas such as Canberra and Sydney.

“Libraries are becoming less about borrowing books and more of a public utility to local communities,” Ms Nichols said.

“It is important that libraries cater for people with sensory needs, whether that be loud noises or certain textures. Through this trial, we will see if there is a demand for it in Cootamundra.”

The dedicated sensory reading space will sit well away from the more commonly used areas of the library and will include tents on loan from the Riverina Regional Library (RRL).

library sensory space poster

The sensory reading space trial will start on 10 April. Photo: Cootamundra War Memorial Library Facebook.

“These tents are small but allow children to have their own space while reading,” Ms Nichols said.

“The RRL have put a lot of resources forward for this trial and giving families who use the library a great opportunity to utilise a quieter space.

“Often children who are able to find their own safe space feel more comfortable, and they are more likely to open up and read and write.”

The feedback from the trial will determine whether a long-term space will be designated for sensory library users.

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“It’s timely that the trial is being conducted when it is, as the library is about to go through renovations. If we do get the feedback that people are fond of the idea and the space, it can be utilised following those renovations,” Ms Nichols said.

Sensory hours and spaces are becoming more common practice, with supermarkets such as Woolworths holding a ”quiet hour”, where music is turned off and the lights are dimmed, to allow the elderly and customers with sensory needs to shop in a less-stressful environment.

To learn more about the Cootamundra War Memorial Library’s sensory reading space, click here.

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