By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager
It has been nearly a full year since Kelley Construction Company broke ground outside the library to begin the children’s room expansion. Now, on January 17, 2015, just 358 days after the ceremonial groundbreaking, we will have a grand opening celebration to showcase the new Children’s Room, including fantastic reading areas, imaginative play spaces, and a larger Storytime Room for programs.
Already, the room is drawing crowds of kids, from an excited after-school bunch needing a place to hang out before evening ball games, to little tots discovering the secret doors into the playhouse.
Walking into the room, anyone familiar with the library will immediately notice changes. Colorful carpet tiles lighten up the room, and an innovative bookshelf in the entryway draws readers in to have a look at the newest books available. Kids who find something they like can crawl right into the bookshelf and begin reading in a comfy built-in nook.
Picture books have grown in popularity, so that space is enlarged with more book displays to show off the fantastic illustrations that define this genre. The area formerly used for storytime has been renovated to encompass both an early literacy space for preschoolers and toddlers, as well as a parent and teacher resource center with a collection of books for adults. Parents can browse for the perfect “toddler years” guide while their little ones are entertained with puppets, puzzles and books.
The new Storytime Room is a fabulous space with media capabilities that will allow for innovative programs. There will be plenty of room for all the kids an caregivers and even the double strollers. Our first storytime in the room will be January 19. Until then, children are enjoying the large, open space, bean bag animals, and bright colored cubes for seating. On nicer winter days, families can slip out the side doors and enjoy the fenced-in garden area, free to explore nature, read outdoors, draw with chalk or play with items on the outside table. Our new storytime schedule includes a Nature Storytime twice a week that will take place outdoors as often as possible.
On the other side of the room, a special feature kids of all ages seem to enjoy is the climbable “Mount Verde”, a large, lime green, multi-level structure where kids can sit, lounge, or pose as King of the Mountain. The structure resides in the Reading Corner amidst giant pillows, puzzle shaped seats, and soft comfy chairs. The oval sloped lounge chair and blue wavy couch are other fun pieces on which kids or adults can relax as they preview their library choices. This is the scene passers-by see as they drive past the windows of the library on Poyntz, and it is often teeming with children and parents.
Nestled around the edges of the room next to the Reading Corner are “neighborhoods” of books: Arts & Crafts, Science & Nature, Graphic Novels, Transportation, Geography, History, Animals, and Fairy Tales & Folklore. Excellent selections of books on these subjects are perfect for young browsers who want to find everything on their favorite topics. Children are drawn in with interactive features such as a magnetic gear and propeller wall, an enormous globe to spin, crafts to make on the spot, rotating displays, objects to build with, and even some live fire-bellied toads. The fairy tale dress up clothes have been very popular, too.
The library’s large collection of children’s fiction is also relocated to this part of the room, and it includes divisions for beginning readers and early chapter books to help younger children find titles at the right reading level.
The additional space has allowed room for the children’s media collections that had been housed next to the adult media. Children’s movies are now next to the librarians’ service desk, along with the children’s music CDs and audiobooks. Customers have commented that they didn’t know the library had books on CD or music CDs for children until now.
Soon, the Technology Zone in the children’s room will be upgraded with twelve touchscreen computers just for kids, loaded with entertaining and educational games, and quick links to kid-friendly websites.
Check it all out first hand, and tell us what you think. We are interested in hearing feedback as we continue to organize all our new furnishings and materials to make it the best library possible for all the kids and families who come in. Join us on January 17, between 1:00 and 4:00, as we celebrate this new space with donor recognition, fun activities around the room for children, a musical performance by Rockin’ Rob at 2:00, and costumed characters Olivia and Curious George roaming the library.