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