This was not your typical indoor recess.

No one was yelling, no desks or Jenga blocks were flying and no detentions were handed out.

Instead, the Adult Recess — Play Time for Adults at the Goodyear Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library served as an example Monday of how the libraries are working to change with habits of patrons.

A large room that was once home to shelves of books at the historic library building was full of fun and opportunity.

Long tables were set up with hands-on activities that ranged from super cool water beads — that bounced well and easily got lost on the busy carpet pattern — to sculpting sand to clay.

Branch manager Tonya Gardella said it was all part of an effort to create a fun and safe space for adults to have fun and get out of the house.

On this particular day, there was a free movie being shown at the Ellet branch so there was some competition for participants.

But soon a van rolled up to the library with clients from Ardmore Inc.’s Bridges Adult Daycare that offers services to a variety of clients.

Before they even took off their coats, some of the program’s clients discovered the table with containers of colorful slime.

Laughter quickly filled the once empty space.

And no one was being shushed.

Gardella smiled broadly as she joined in the fun and discovered the slime was a bit of a challenge to get off your hands.

This was one of those success stories in making the library as inclusive as possible.

“I’m very purposeful in my scheduling,” she said.

The goal is to appeal to a variety of interests and needs when mapping out programming.

She says she has found great success in targeting adults who are looking for someplace to go or companionship.

It is not uncommon to see a dozen or so people at an adult coloring program or puzzle session where they work on everything from crosswords to dot-to-dot puzzles to word searches.

Gloria Jennings said her clients look forward to attending the library’s programs as part of a daily field trip they offer at the adult day care.

She said they take outings to other places including the mall, a park and even nursing homes.

“There is one lady at the nursing home we go to see and she cries every time,” Jennings said. “I’m like ‘ol’ Lord, you can’t do that.’ The lady says we are the only ones who visit her.”

But the library is a favorite.

"They all love [Tonya]," Jennings said.

Chris Benedum, 36, lives in a group home in Tallmadge.

He loves collecting comic books so he quickly settled in at a table with Silly Putty and pressed hard against the Sunday Comics to create images from the newspaper.

He let out a huge "yes" when he found his favorite, Garfield.

"I like lasagna but not as much as Garfield does," Benedum said. 

After arriving at the branch some four years ago, Gardella said, she saw a need for a place for adults and special needs residents to participate in daytime activities, so she worked to fill the void.

"We try to provide programs for everyone," she said. "This is what the library system is all about. Folks use the library for a lot of different reasons."

 

Craig Webb can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.