Father’s Viral Photo Of Library Desk/Crib Calls Attention To Needed Child Care Solutions
A father from Richmond, Virginia, took his two sons to their local library in Fairfield and noticed a computer workstation with an attached partitioned playpen/crib area. He was in awe by the wooden desk and captured a picture that would go viral on Twitter.
“I’m staring at it, and I’m like, this is so brilliant,” Ali Faruk told Good Morning America. “It was just so simple and intuitive, and it’s one of those things where you stare at it and you’re like, ‘How is this not everywhere?'”
A new public library in my area has these work stations for caregivers with babies! Maybe these are common in other places but Ive never seen anything like this before. pic.twitter.com/svmhWu7QbK
— Ali Faruk (@FamiliesFwdVA) January 22, 2022
While garnering over 27,000 retweets, the post called attention to the solutions that were designed specifically to fulfill a need in the Fairfield community, which is a predominantly Black community, according to July 2021 census data.
The desk and crib, featured in Faruk’s photo, is known as the Fairfield Parent+Child Carrel, which “offers a convenient spot for parents to work while their babies or toddler are next to them in a safe and stimulating LearnPLAY environment,” according to the product description.
The furniture was conceptualized by the library system and led by Henrico County Public Library Director Barbara Weedman. The product came about after gathering feedback from the neighborhood’s residents. It was also designed with the help of the businesses Quinn Evans Architects and TMC Furniture.
“We’ve seen parents and caregivers who would need to do adult work, like apply for a job or create a document for community college and so on, and if they had little infants and toddlers, we saw that it was very tricky to do,” Weedman explained to the news outlet.
“The idea really was for customer service, to provide access. Librarians love to help, and we love to give access to people, and it can be tricky when you have little ones,” she said. “And I think this has resonated with many people, because they can relate, juggling all these things in our busy lives.”
On the other hand, the concept of the carrel sparked a conversation about paid leave and child care in the United States. In fact, when Lauren Smith Brody, an advocate of paid family and medical leave, saw a shared photo of the desk carrel on Instagram, she took an interview with Good Morning America.
“When you see an organization step in and create a solution that could potentially help a lot of people, you want to be supportive of it, but it doesn’t solve the larger question of like, why is this even needed? Why do American families not have access to affordable child care?” she said.