We recently visited a library that has an innovative new service for its visitors.
You've all seen parents and grandparents browsing the shelves in the adult section, constantly distracted by the children in their care whining or running loose between the stacks. This library has come up with an excellent solution: Kiddie Kages.
Children are checked into Kages (they're stacked in a room lined with sound-dampening tiles), and the adults are free to find grown-up reading material, do research on that fungal infection, or sit down for some cybersex chat without being disturbed by the young'uns. To keep the kids pacified, cartoons play non-stop on a large screen facing the Kages. The service is co-sponsored by the video store and a local fast-food restaurant, which provides fries and soft drinks for free.
What makes this an especially great idea is that this library will have a tax referendum on the ballot this fall, and the Kiddie Kages directly benefit the residents who vote. Anyone who's seen statistics about the abysmal election-day turnout of the under-25 cohort knows that libraries waste money and effort trying to woo teenagers, mistakenly thinking that "today's teens are tomorrow's voters." But catering to the folks who actually go to the polls (adults -- especially the older ones -- who go to the library without kids appreciate the Kages, too) is much more likely to pay off with "Yes" votes.
This definitely goes in our Ideas Worth Stealing file.