Library to get facelift for younger readers’ section

Books won’t be the only things filling up the Claremont Public Library come September 2.

As soon the children’s summer reading program comes to a close, the construction crews are moving in as the library’s well-used and well-loved children’s section receives a much-needed upgrade.

This is the first time the children’s section has received updated digs since the local library first opened its doors in 1975, according to Laura Bollinger, past president of the Friends of the Claremont Library. Among the changes will be fresh carpeting, refurbished walls, better lighting, new computers and furniture with the goal of making the space more like a home away from home than a library.

“We want kids to really feel this is a cool place to come, to really see this as an exciting place to spend their time,” Ms. Bollinger said.

Renovation plans are underway thanks to the Friends of the Claremont Library, who contributed a bulk of the expense for the $125,000 project. Los Angeles County has also chipped in to help bring the kid’s space up-to-date with the standards of other county libraries.

The Friends had been eyeing an update for quite some time, knowing that much of the furniture in the children’s center is original to the space. After weathering a couple “floods” in the children’s center, the need became all the more apparent. Other than a couple thousand dollars donated through a small fundraising drive, a majority of ‘The Friends’ have pooled together funds accumulated over the years from book sales, special events and membership.

While The Friends have plenty of their own insight after visiting a number of children’s libraries throughout the county, part of the renovation money has been used to hire a professional familiar with library design. The designer plans to incorporate familiar color schemes, like the blues and greens already associated with the entire building, but introduce updated fabrics and wood paneling.

In addition to fixing the “shabby” walls and outdated carpeting, upping the reading room’s comfort level was also an important must-have addition for The Friends. This includes developing a reading area for those in-between readers, according to Ms. Bollinger.

“Once the kids grew out of the picture books, they really only had the study tables,” Ms. Bollinger noted. “We want a comfortable area where the older youth can sit with a chapter book and enjoy reading.”

In between chapters, the library’s youngest readers will have access to the Internet with additional computers on hand and additional places to plug in their own devices.

The library facade isn’t the only thing getting an upgrade. Programming will also get an anticipated improvement with the introduction of a Family Place curriculum. Family Place, part of a Libraries for the Future initiative adopted in 1996, has become a staple of library programming throughout Los Angeles County, according to Louix Escobar-Matute, regional administrator for the east region of the Los Angeles County Public Library. Family Place offers parents resources for early childhood development, from providing a place for parents and children to interact to offering expert-led workshops on nutrition, speech and language therapy and others.

Children’s library to remain open 

Construction may be around the corner, library employees preparing to empty the shelves and close the doors of the children’s library, but it doesn’t mean Claremont’s youngest readers are out of luck. Kids are invited to make themselves at home in the library’s meeting room, where children’s books will be available for perusal through the end of the renovation, scheduled for late fall.

For more information on the renovation take a look at The Friends bulletin board at the Claremont Public Library for a sneak peek at swatches and other design features. The library is located at 208 N. Harvard Ave.

—Beth Hartnett


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