By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
Five hundred dollars of fresh paint later, 200 volunteer hours of muscle and labour in the books, three less stairs and a partial wall removal at the Theodore Brandley (Stirling) Library has led to a much needed face lift and makeover of the Children’s Reading Area. The last time the Stirling Library was updated was back in 1990.
“We just wanted to open it up and show the kids that this library is for them. All of our stats show that it is the kids that use it the most,” said Laura Quinton, library manager.
The old space was uninviting and crammed in the back corner. It was crowded and there wasn’t a lot of room for the kids to do things or to gather during reading programs, explained Quinton.
“It was probably half the size of what we have now,” she added. “It didn’t say come on in and sit, it said, get your books and go.”
The Children’s Reading Area is now front and center, by the large windows so that the children can enjoy the natural light. It was painted an inviting combination of earthy greens and browns to make the space warm and welcoming. It features a “Once upon a time” feature wall with vinyl icons of outer space, princesses, pirates and fairies.
“From my experience, I have always gone to the library and it started when I was young. You’re not going to find a library lover as an adult who wasn’t one as a child,” shared Quinton.
That simple idea was the reason behind the renovation, to create an inviting space for children to gather and feel safe and welcome. With the hope that they will continue to come and appreciate literacy as teenagers and in time bring their own children back to the library and share favourite books and memories.
“As a child I always loved books. It was a way for me to escape or go somewhere else. One day I could solve a mystery with Nancy Drew and the next day I could hang out with the Babysitter’s Club and then I could be finding treasure on Treasure Island the next day. There are so many books out there that just open up worlds of learning and enjoyment,” said Quinton who enjoys seeing the kid’s eyes light up when they discover a favourite new book or author.
The updated space was made possible thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta.
Money also went towards furnishing the space with custom blinds, area rugs, a bench, bean bags, pillows and chairs so that the visiting children can be comfortable and no longer have to sit on the floor.
“This way we can have programs where we actually have room and we aren’t sitting all over one another. And we will hopefully get more kids into the library.”
The Library was closed from Feb 16 to 24 for renovations. On Saturday from 10a.m. to 1 p.m. children and community members alike gathered to enjoy snacks, crafts and other activities during the reopening celebration.
So far the children’s reaction to the space has been very positive, said Quinton with a smile.
“In a small town it is sometimes hard to find, we call it the third place. Somewhere else outside your home where you can go that’s not church or work. Somewhere else that you can be comfortable at and that is what we have started here.”
Quinton said that many children will spend hours at a time visiting the library, especially during the summer months.
“The new space is going to be able to open more possibilities for programing that we can host. Eventually we would like to have a projector and movie screen so that we can host movie nights.”
The Stirling Library is open from 3-7p.m. Monday to Friday, with additional Wednesday morning hours starting at 10 a.m.
“If you haven’t been to our library, you need to come. It offers so much more than just books.”