Safer sensory space part of Picton branch expansion

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

One of the projects we took on at the County of Prince Edward Public Library and Archives during the pandemic related closures in 2020 and 2021 was applying for various funding opportunities.

One such program, the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) – Youth Innovation Component through Employment and Social Development Canada , is focussed on making public spaces more accessible.

We received funding for our project, A Safer Sensory Space Downtown. This project will create a sensory room in the expanded Picton Branch. This project was inspired by sensory rooms at other libraries which have been very successful. In an article in American Libraries magazine describing a sensory room, “one section is filled with tactile objects providing physical interaction, delighting those who are under stimulated in daily life and helping those with early onset dementia… the second section is a relaxation area. Designed to limit stimuli for those who are overly stimulated… the relaxation section is full of soothing colors, dim lights and more.”

The Picton Branch Library Sensory Room will be a space that can be made calming or invigorating with music, noise-cancelling headphones, and other resources. Even after the expansion adds spaces for library programs and performances, we anticipate that there will still be times that the library is noisy or busy.

The Sensory Room will be a welcoming space that creates a respite for anyone who needs the quiet.

For a sneak peek at some of the resources that will be available, you can drop by the Picton Branch today. We have a large multicolour acrylic tube rainbow light which has a variety of settings that can change the ambiance of the room.

There is also a rock-a-boat which is a dual- function piece of equipment. Placed one way it’s a small set of stairs and active play and flipped over it is a balance boat which two children can use like a gentle teeter-totter.

With the funding we also purchased some high interest, appealing books that will be made available in the sensory room in the new build. Many of the books we have ordered are graphic novels for teens, including manga which is very popular with young readers. These books are starting to arrive now, and can be browsed at the library.

Thanks to members of the library’s youth group, Discover YOUth for giving their ideas for what. the room might most need. The library’s expansion at the Picton Branch creates so many opportunities for creative use of the spaces and we are looking forward to developing them.

If you have ideas or are interested in learning more about the expansion, drop by or connect with library CEO Barbara Sweet at (613) 476-5962.

-Liz Zylstra