Renovation rejuvenates children’s library – The Tennessean
The main Nashville Library’s Children’s Department is newÃ‚Â again.
Yes, after 15 years of serious wear and tear from almost 100,000 active little book-loving patronsÃ‚Â every year,Ã‚Â the second floor children’s area at the downtown library has been transformed.
And a grand reopening celebration is set for Wednesday afternoon.
The yellow walls areÃ‚Â no more, the well-worn carpet has been replaced with much more forgiving and highly durable vinyl flooring,Ã‚Â and an impressive new Nashville-themed,Ã‚Â three-levelÃ‚Â Ã‚Â “reading fort”, complete with a bridge and several levels of reading and play areas,Ã‚Â has been added as the department’s centerpiece.
You and your kids are gonna love this place!
“The fort is for reading and exploring. We’ve put lots of nooks and crannies in there with lights so that they can crawl in and read,”Ã‚Â said children’s librarian Lindsey Patrick, who said that the renovation research for the $1.2 million project, whichÃ‚Â took five months to complete,Ã‚Â looked at “what goes into dynamic libraries” in other cities, and included lots of information gleaned from surveys of local parents and children who use the library.
But a top goal, she said, was toÃ‚Â make the spaceÃ‚Â hyper-localÃ‚Â and create an active, fun place for children to come play and learn.
“It was very important that it look like a Nashville library, that it would be a library thatÃ‚Â could onlyÃ‚Â be in Nashville.Ã‚Â And thisÃ‚Â could only be in Nashville,” PatrickÃ‚Â said, pointing to the “Gateway” bridgeÃ‚Â component of the readingÃ‚Â fort thatÃ‚Â is modeled afterÃ‚Â the Korean Veterans Bridge downtown, as well asÃ‚Â theÃ‚Â Nashville-themed archways scattered throughout the department that mimicÃ‚Â the Country Music Hall of Fame, state Capitol, Union StationÃ‚Â and other Nashville landmarks.
There was also a push to make the children’s area more interactive than ever, by addingÃ‚Â a new play space with a 5-foot tallÃ‚Â puppet stage (designed to look like the Ryman Auditorium)Ã‚Â where children will be encouraged toÃ‚Â improvise their own shows. There are alsoÃ‚Â several toddler heightÃ‚Â discovery tables with activities such asÃ‚Â Duplos, trains and lights. And even a “crawl wall” climbing wall for little ones.
“Play is the work of a child;Ã‚Â it is absolutely essential,” Patrick said. “Children cannot sitÃ‚Â and read all day.”
The library’s collection of 93,000 books (that doesn’t include the digital collection) is “top-notch,” she said.
“We did not get rid of any books. In fact there is more shelving for future growth,” she said,Ã‚Â explaining that in the new configurationÃ‚Â the books are color coded by shelving, with nonfiction on blue shelves, picture books on greenÃ‚Â and chapter books on red.
“We have tried to take what we did wellÃ‚Â before and the things that were popular and enhance them,” Patrick said, noting that inÃ‚Â the old setupÃ‚Â the puppet stage was much smaller and the creative play area was much more limited. The new features will give children more encouragement to engage in creative activities.
The perennially popular Buttercup the Mouse still has her original home, as well as herÃ‚Â second home. But what’s new is thatÃ‚Â the library has added a way for children to send mail to Buttercup. Ask the librarians to show you Buttercup’s quarters and tell you how to write to her.
While the children’s book and computer areas got most of the attention on this project, which was funded by the Nashville Public Library and the NashvilleÃ‚Â Public Library Foundation, there were also updates to the puppet theater,Ã‚Â where the award-winning Wishing Chair Productions shows and storytime sessions with Mary Mary, the Professor and Library PeteÃ‚Â take place,Ã‚Â and the activity room, where families come for play time andÃ‚Â art and craft projects.
Other improvements includeÃ‚Â a larger children’s librarians desk, a book drop in the children’s area, a separate computer space area (separate from the children’s picture book area)Ã‚Â and a new “Tween” area for 8-13-year-olds, with comfortable seating, 3-D printers, sewing machines, robotics and more.
“This age is where a lot of children lose interest in the library. Part of our goal is to create lifelong library users” by offering more programming and resources to theÃ‚Â age group, PatrickÃ‚Â said..
“OurÃ‚Â children’s facilities and programs have always been a crown jewel of our Nashville Public Library system, but the brand new renovation of our Main Library’s Children’s Department exceeds all expectations. These new spaces were designed to provide layered learning experiences that reflect a child’s need to play and move as they learn,” said Kent Oliver, Nashville Public Library director.
Enjoy this fun, new space! ItÃ‚Â is truly a wonderful place to stay cheap.
Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282. Follow her atÃ‚Â www.tennessean.com/mscheap, atÃ‚Â https://www.facebook.com/mscheap?_rdrÃ‚Â and on Twitter @Ms_Cheap, and catch her every Thursday at 11 a.m. on WTVF-Channel 5’s “Talk of the Town.”
Grand Reopening of Children’s Department.
WednesdayÃ‚Â at the Main Library, 615 Church St.:
3:30 p.m. Ã¢Â€Â”Ã‚Â Families assemble for parade on secondÃ‚Â floor.
3:45 p.m. Ã¢Â€Â”Ã‚Â Remarks and ribbon cutting with Mayor Megan Barry.
4Ã‚Â p.m. Ã¢Â€Â”Ã‚Â Parade to the new childrenÃ¢Â€Â™s department.Ã‚Â
4:30 p.m. Ã¢Â€Â”Ã‚Â SpecialÃ‚Â Wishing Chair puppet show.
Nashville Public Library schedule
The children’s department offers 12-16 programs each week throughout the year.Ã‚Â The Nashville Public LibraryÃ¢Â€Â™s Wishing Chair Productions puppet theater will present Ã¢Â€ÂœA ChildÃ¢Â€Â™s CalendarÃ¢Â€Â at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Fridays and SaturdaysÃ‚Â through Dec. 19. John UpdikeÃ¢Â€Â™s collection of poems for children are transformed into a delightful musical puppet show that takes the audience through the seasons month by month. http://nashvillepubliclibrary.org/wishingchair.
The library also offers free story times at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the Professor, Library PeteÃ‚Â and Mary Mary singing, jugglingÃ‚Â and reading books with their puppet friends.
AndÃ‚Â they have Ã¢Â€ÂœBabies and BooksÃ¢Â€Â story times atÃ‚Â 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.Ã‚Â Thursdays in December, except for Christmas Eve. These are all free on the second floor of the main library at 615 Church St. There is free parking for up to an hour and a half in the libraryÃ¢Â€Â™s parking garage. library.nashville.govÃ‚Â or Ã‚Â 615-862-5800.