The new Library in Northern Colorado Innovation Center, also known as LINC, located in downtown Greeley, gives kids a non-traditional library experience with museum-like exhibits, quirky furniture and thematic elements that teleport visitors into other worlds.
The silo is one of the main architectural designs that is seen from the library’s entrance. The silo was designed by Wes Bruce and commissioned by the Weld Community Foundation to represent Weld County’s agricultural history. Inside the silo are climbing ropes that go to the top level leading to the Children’s Innovation and another Wes Bruce exhibit, “Where Water Flows Uphill.” The Children’s Innovation exhibit was designed in collaboration with the Denver Children’s Museum. This space features many hands-on attractions that are both educational and interactive. “You do not realize you are learning while you’re just playing, but playing is how we learn,” LINC Library Manager Melissa Beavers says.
The Children’s Innovation exhibit features a color panel on the wall that controls large screens and changes the lighting in the cloud-shaped ceiling structures. According to Melissa, this exhibit is an opportunity for children to have control over their environment and learn color theory. There is also a station where people can build paper airplanes or use LINC-provided cones for the rocket launcher tunnel. In this exhibit, “the kids are learning about gravity and aerodynamics, and how things move.” The rocket launcher tunnel is decorated with pictures and cloud-related words, which ties to the overall cloud theme of the space. There are two workstations within the Children’s Innovation exhibit, which are smaller replicas of the adult workstations in the lower-level workshops. “Kids need to have the opportunity to engage in a workshop for many reasons—the creativity, learning how to measure things and being like older siblings or being like the adults,” Melissa says. Some additional attractions within the Children’s Innovation space are a wind tube, a ball track, a water table, floor projectors and a full-sized Lite Brite.
For a full-sensory experience, visitors can adventure into the “Where Water Flows Uphill” exhibit, which is also located on the upper level of LINC. Upon entering, visitors are greeted with a musical track playing throughout the exhibit and floor-to-ceiling murals decorated with a fictional written language—“the water language”—which can be decoded using wall guides. Visitors can experience different spaces within the exhibit—the web room, the tree room, the grotto room and the barnacle. At the center of the exhibit is a dome-shaped theater room with a 360-degree screen that plays short films showing the hero’s journey. Visitors can then experience the hero’s journey by passing through a series of spaces with different thematic elements. Concluding the hero’s journey, visitors walk through a waterfall of mist into a small room and then return through the exhibit.
For visitors seeking a more traditional library experience, the art studio provides solo or guided crafts. There are two additional spaces within the art studio. One room is enclosed under the silo and is intended to be a meditation room or quiet room. It is designed to look like a theater with different layers of stairs and the entire room was hand-painted from floor to ceiling. There is another smaller room within the art studio that is intended to be a more private space. “Kids can come into this space, have a private desk and work alone,” Melissa says. The space, which is known as “the chill-out space,” features a single desk and an open ceiling below the climbing ropes of the silo.
The children’s library is the final children’s attraction. It was furnished using a universal design featuring quirky stone-shaped stools and grassy knolls, which are round stools covered in Astroturf to give people a sensation of sitting in the grass. “Universal design is the concept that any user should be able to use your space regardless of size, shape and ability level and a key component of that is furniture,” Melissa says. The color themes selected for the children’s library resemble Colorado’s colorful sunrises and sunsets featuring abstract ceiling structures, which contribute to the acoustic element of universal design. There is a “creek of books,” which is a smaller model of the “river of books” located in the adult library. The storytime room located within the children's library has a large hobbit door, and cloud-like ceilings to give visitors a fairytale experience.
The Silo- The purpose of this climbing attraction is to allow users to redirect their energy before entering "Where Water Flows Uphill."
The Art Studio- Each art station is stocked with art supplies to give visitors the opportunity to engage in solo or guided activities.
Children's Innovation- Children's Innovation was designed to give visitors a local experience similar to the Denver Children's Museum with interactive attractions.
"Where Water Flows Uphill"- Adventure into a fantasy world and experience the hero's journey through different spaces within the exhibit.
The Children's Library- Explore the quirky furniture and pick out a book from the "creek of books" or listen to a fairytale in the storytime room.
“You do not realize you are learning while you’re just playing, but playing is how we learn," Melissa Beavers