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Virginia Library Praised for Attaching Cribs to Work Stations For Mothers

Chris Cunningham Photography, courtesy TMC Furniture

Barbara Weedman, a library director and a single mother in Virginia is being praised for her idea that helps other mothers to be able to work in peace at the Henrico County Public Library.

When Weedman was a single mom to her now grown son, she noticed how dfficult it was to parent in public spaces that weren’t designed with families in mind. She realized how public spaces weren’t kid friendly.

“I know how challenging it can be for caregivers to access things that are welcoming for them, much less intentionally designed for them, in public places,” Weedman said.

She mentioned how she saw parents coming into the library with little children, struggling to get work done all while subconsciously tending to their babies and realized something needed to be done.

In 2017, when another branch of the library was in the woodwork, Weedman considered installing a work-play station concept that would allow parents to work in ease and simultaneously watch their kids who were playing in a safe place.
She joined hands with the community and together, when the Fairfield Area Library opened in 2019, the parents were in for a pleasant surprise.

The team designed and built computer desks and attached a crib-like play pen on to each desk which met baby safety standards while the parents worked. Each compartment was also equipped with toys to keep the little minds busy.

“On opening day, a mother with an infant and a small child sat down at a Work and Play Station to use the computer and placed her children in the carrel — without having received any direction from staff,” Weedman said. “It was gratifying to see that the design was immediately intuitive.”

This new work-play station facility in the library not only won the hearts of parents but for caregivers in the Fairfield area comprising of several intergenerational homes.

Weedman further said, “These caregivers may not have internet access at home, or they may just need a quiet place away from home to get a little work done,” she said. “People with all different kinds of needs use these workstations, just like how people with all different kinds of needs use the library.”

Back in January 2022, Ali Faruk, the policy director for Families Forward Virginia, tweeted a picture of the library’s workstations which went viral and even caught the national press’s attention.

“At first, we were surprised to see them go viral and some of the impassioned responses online,” Weedman said. “But then we understood that people with small children were happy to feel seen and considered in a public space.”

Following the tweet, Weedman and her library now see how other organizations have expressed their interests in installing similar work and play stations within libraries, universities, and even for parents who work from home.

“For Weedman, the function of the Work and Play Stations are in line with the greater mission of the library: to allow people to access information and learning.”

“These ‘Work and Play Stations’ are just another way libraries can be supportive, a piece of infrastructure that helps meet information needs and makes our spaces more accessible and inclusive for caregivers of small children,” she said.

While some libraries like Weedman’s are working hard to ensure children are within their parent’s sight while they work, parents across the nation are similarly exercising their rights to remove inappropriate and sexually explicit content for children in the local libraries.

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  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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