Do it yourself Playdate Guide!!

How to set up your own playdate/playspace at the Beverly Public Library!

Following please find a brief tutorial on how to use the Beverly Public Library’s online meeting room reservation system. This is how I began setting up the monthly Saturday morning “Unofficial Story Time Playdates”. I had just gone to Play Makers in Rowley (last January), and we had a great time. I was struck at how exclusive the experience was though; it required a car, and enough funds to spend on simple morning playdate. I began brainstorming spaces where I might be able to create a similar experience (open play, in the winter), without having to spend money (or repurpose my apartment, which already looks something like a daycare) for my daughter and other little ones…

I grew up using the Beverly Public Library, and when I stumbled upon the meeting room reservations (while reserving zoo passes, which I recommend you check out), and the free ebooks and audio books, it all clicked.

Below is a step by step guide to the room reservation process. I think the process is pretty intuitive; however, I wanted to be as comprehensive as possible, so that you could all be free to set up as many play dates as the library schedule can handle!

You may be wondering why I don’t just go ahead and set up weekly playdates, but, unfortunately, I can’t be on hand during week days, and, the library has a once a month only room reservation policy. I would suggest that you reserve the space as I have, as an “Unofficial Storytime/Playdate”, and either create a group name, or use your child’s first name (for instance, moving forward I am using Garden City Families, in the past I have used North Shore New Moms, and a few others, have fun, be creative, but be aware it will be on the library calendar).

I know that there is a new children’s librarian, and she is aware of my monthly playdates (I took the step of getting background checked to be a library volunteer, in the event they felt they needed that from me), and they have actually contacted me about other playdates, so I think they will be more supportive. I don’t want to undermine their policies at all; I think part of the restriction is so that they don’t have to allocate their limited staff resources to formally overseeing these activities.

If you do set up a date, please please let us know, so we can share it. I know there is already a group interested in Friday’s. Do it!

Step One (we can have lots of fun)

First, you must go to

To the right of the screen you will see the menu of options, click on meeting rooms, and click on it!

Step Two…

Next up, read the rules of reservations, if you want a short cut, basically, you can’t reserve the room to sell stuff, you can’t reserve it for birthday parties (I asked, no dice). Unofficially (as in, it is nowhere that I have seen on the website, or in the confirmation materials) I have been told that you can only reserve a room once a month as an individual or organization.

Step Three

Go to the Online meeting reservation form:

It looks like this:

Click on the date you are looking for, the screen will then pull up all of the available spaces, and times. You will want to select a start time, and an end time. Descriptions of the different spaces are on the library website. The Sohier Room is the room right before the children’s room, it has a kitchen, and nice visibility for people wandering in, but if it isn’t available, I would also recommend the Barnett Room, also on the ground floor, lots of space to run and play.

You will need to click a start time and an end time. Be advised, the library actually blocks off 15 minutes before hand, so budget that in. I didn’t know this at first.

Step Four:

Fill out this form; please feel welcome to steal my language.

Once you submit it, you will get a confirmation from the library. Then you will get a message telling you your space is reserved (not necessarily the same day).

Get the word out, let us know, post on the Facebook Page and the google group.

When you get the library, JUST WALK INTO YOUR ROOM!!! No need to check in. If you are late, they may call you (has happened to me in the past). I do like to let the children’s desk librarian know that I am there, and if anyone wants to join or is looking for the play group to head on in.

I hope this was helpful! Please feel welcome to ask for clarification, or make other suggestions. If your library has similar services, let us know!!

One response to this post.

  1. Great job! This is very helpful.


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