WWPL Creates Immersive Ocean Experience

When the 2022 Summer Reading Program theme “Oceans of Possibilities” was announced, the staff at the Westfield Washington Public Library decided to take this opportunity to create a truly immersive “underwater experience” within the library itself.

Librarians transformed what was once a leveled story time and movie viewing room into the “Library Lagoon,” a sensory-friendly underwater cave. Thanks to nearby Grace Church’s recent stage production of “A Little Mermaid,” library staff was able to borrow underwater props and decorative items, and those were incorporated into a complete 3D ocean-themed environment, from floor to ceiling!

Children could explore the Library Lagoon whenever they visited the library. They could see underwater creatures and plant life, and watch ocean-themed movies as well as an underwater YouTube channel on the big screen. A large dolphin was suspended from the ceiling, surrounded by dangling jellyfish, and sunken treasure chests and coral reefs lined the room. Blue lights bathed the room with a moody underwater glow.

Related programming included a visit from the 43-foot Whalemobile, ocean-themed trivia nights, beach-themed craft programs, and even a teen escape room with an underwater treasure theme. The response from the public was very enthusiastic, and their smiles were frequently captured in the library’s two selfie photo booths, decorated with kayaks and more colorful underwater backdrops.