By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Lowe Public Library’s Board of Trustees has been vigilant in the past couple of years in maintaining the library and “keeping up with the times” … ensuring that services at the local library offer access to the information age – computers with Internet access – to patrons of all ages. And yes, that includes children too … even the little ones! Fortunately, the library was forward thinking and realized years ago that space did not allow enough room to meet many of the increasing needs of those little ones. And so, they embarked on a huge challenge – to raise funding for an addition devoted strictly to children. Thanks to many generous donors and a successful capital campaign, the Fullen Children’s Center became a reality and opened in December of 1996.
However, just like managing and caring for a home, the needs are ongoing! Among the library’s most recent projects have been some cosmetic updates to the nearly 20-year old Fullen Children’s Center. Carpet has been cleaned; walls have been painted in duet colors of bright orange and soft blue; new tables and chairs have been purchased along with area rugs in brilliant primary colors; even mobile seating in the shape of a caterpillar has been added! Now, upon entering this area, it is clear that this space is devoted to children’s activities.
Library Director Deborah Starkey says that the compliments have been flowing in earnest! “Everyone loves it!” she stated. “People comment on its cheerfulness and how it is evident that this area is specifically child-oriented.”
The area’s large screen TV has been mounted on the wall, and the walls, too, have been enhanced by primary colored dots and letters affixed to their surface. New blinds remain to be installed and renovations will be complete.
Making the children’s area a focal point of the Board’s attention has been driven by the fact that libraries are such a valuable resource for children and often their first introduction to lifelong learning … a place where every child can become familiar with a world opened up through books. If inspired at an early age by the excitement of finding knowledge through reading, the developmental enrichment can be beneficial for a lifetime.
“The earlier you instill a love for books in a child, the better,” Mrs. Starkey added. “Children who discover the library is a great resource at a young age are likely to remain users of the library in future years. It becomes a familiar place.”
Lowe Public Library is visited by an average of 1,200 patrons or more each month … and nearly 25% of those are children! Jungle Junction visits the library weekly for story hour; girls ages 6-12 enjoy coming to the library as part of the American Girl club; kids regularly enjoy ‘reading to the dogs’ with participation of Therapy Dogs. A story hour for ages 3 to 5 will begin in early November. Many special programs and holiday parties are hosted at the library as well so children have many opportunities at Lowe Public Library to become familiar with its surroundings and contents.
“I love children and have tried to dedicate time to forming special programs and activities that bring kids into the library,” Mrs. Starkey continued. “I think it is important for our community’s children to develop an enthusiasm for using its resources.”
Two computers in the children’s area are specifically devoted to use by younger children. It is an opportunity for many who may not have home computers to experience using them, playing games, etc. Other computers in the library’s main room are open for public utilization and are typically constantly in use!
Thanks to a little leftover money from the Children’s Center’s building fund, from grant funding and donations, investing in these improvements fit within the library’s budget.
If you haven’t visited Lowe Public Library recently, please stop by and see what an inviting atmosphere awaits your children. Expose them to becoming involved in some of the library’s many activities and perhaps they will become lifelong readers!
Regular hours at Lowe Public Library are Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Library doors are always open to welcoming new patrons!