New Sensory Space at the Cheat Area Public Library

New Sensory Space at the Cheat Area Public Library

by Ryne F., Branch Manager, Cheat Area Public Library

We are thrilled to announce the opening of our new sensory space at the Cheat Area Public
Library (CAPL)! As the Branch Manager, I would love to tell you all about this exciting new
addition to our building.

The idea for the sensory space came from a trip to the West Virginia Library Association
Conference that I attended along with our Library Assistants Jessika and Abby last October. One
of the sessions that Jessika attended was about the need for sensory spaces and sensory
interaction within the library. To put this great idea into action, our Outreach Coordinator, Emily,
connected us with two Occupational Therapy (OT) students from West Virginia University,
Lauren and Ayric, who were interested in working with the Morgantown Public Library System
(MPLS). In collaboration with their program, they agreed to come to CAPL and do a needs
assessment regarding the potential implementation of a sensory space!

We were immediately enthusiastic about how much Lauren and Ayric knew and how much
potential they thought CAPL had to implement a sensory space. Once we knew where we were
going to put it in the children’s area, we moved on to thinking about how we would do it, and
what we would put within the space. Ayric, Lauren, Abby, Jessika, and I worked diligently to
create a list of items that could be used in the space, along with curtains to create a dimming
effect within the space. Once our items were ordered and delivered, we put the space together.

The space includes elements such as calming, glowing clouds, sensory bins filled with rice and
beans, weighted stuffed animals, a light-up sound machine, over-the-ear headphones, and other
items used for physical and auditory stimulation and relaxation! Inside the space, there are two
sets of cards that explain how each item should work. One set of cards is for children, and they
explain in fun rhymes and easy-to-understand language about how each item works. For
caregivers, we have cards that explain the purpose of the tools in relation to helping with
relaxation and mitigating every factor of overstimulation.

This new sensory space is a wonderful, and I’d say, necessary, addition to our library. At MPLS,
our mission statement focuses on inclusion, service, and learning — a sensory space affirms all
of these goals. We are serving members of our community who may have extrasensory needs
with a space of their own, which allows them to be included in instances of programs or day-to-
day use of the library that could become overwhelming. The space offers a learning opportunity
for not only the staff who put it together, but also for patrons who don’t have sensory needs to
see how these things are implemented and why they are important to have in our community.

At the Cheat Area Public Library, and in the Morgantown Public Library System as a whole, we
are committed to meeting these needs and learning how to better implement inclusive solutions
every day! If you have any suggestions on how we can continue to meet needs with our sensory
space at CAPL, please reach out to us at, or stop by and chat with us!

Child using new sensory space at the Cheat Area Public Library.