Li­brary im­proves chil­dren’s room

Up­grades in­clude read­ing house, new fur­ni­ture

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­[email protected]­pub.com

Stand­ing about six feet tall and lined with shelves full of books, the new read­ing house in­side the Ne­wark Free Li­brary was the per­fect place for 2-year-old Christo­pher Bigham to curl up and look at a book on a re­cent morn­ing.

The read­ing house, pur­chased with grants from New Cas­tle County Coun­cil­women Lisa Diller and Janet Kil­patrick, is the high­light of sev­eral new up­grades to the chil­dren’s area at the li­brary. Other items, pro­vided by the Friends of the Ne­wark Li­brary, in­clude a new sofa, book cub­bies, and a bilin­gual ed­u­ca­tional com­puter.

“This is awe­some. There’s a lot for the kids to ex­plore,” Christo­pher’s mom, Jen­nifer Bigham said. “My kid’s not one to sit down and do noth­ing. He lives to get up and move, and they ac­com­mo­date that.”

The Friends group, which each year raises more than $15,000 to buy items for the li­brary and fund per­for­mances and other pro­grams, has been fo­cus­ing on the chil­dren’s area to co­in­cide with a state ini­tia­tive aimed at in­creas­ing early child­hood lit­er­acy, ac­cord­ing to Judy Tag­gart, pres­i­dent of the group.

So far, the up­grades have been pop­u­lar, Li­brary Man­ager Pat Birchenall said.

“We just see such joy on the faces of the kids, and the par­ents, too,” Birchenall said. “Ev­ery time I walk in, there are chil­dren and par­ents in there.”

She added that the li­brary has be­come a meet­ing place for Univer­sity of Delaware grad­u­ate stu­dents from over­seas who are liv­ing in Ne­wark with their fam­i­lies. The stu­dents or their spouses of­ten come to the li­brary so they can so­cial­ize while their chil­dren play.

“They’ll stay in there for a cou­ple hours,” Birchenall said. “It’s a place peo­ple can come meet each other.”

Diller echoed the sen­ti­ment that the li­brary serves as a gath­er­ing place.

“You could go to a pub, but if you’re a fam­ily, you go the li­brary in­stead,” she said.

Kil­patrick said a vi­brant chil­dren’s area is cru­cial to get­ting kids in­ter­ested in the li­brar y.

“The more fun kids have when they’re young, the more they want to keep com­ing back,” she said.

The next project for the 250-mem­ber Friends group is cre­at­ing an in­ter­ac­tive dis­play in the li­brary’s lobby, Tag­gart said.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Christo­pher Bigham, 2, looks at a book in­side the new read­ing house in the chil­dren’s room at the Ne­wark Free Li­brary.

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