Oxford Library unveils a brighter, bigger, and better Children's Room
● By Steven Hoffman
The Children's Room in the Oxford Library is brighter, bigger, and better—just ask anyone who has seen it since the new space opened to the public in May.
“We like it a lot,” said Renee Sceski, a Nottingham resident who frequently visits the library with her four children. “It's a lot bigger and there's more room for programs. We really enjoy the summer reading activities that they have.”
Library director Carey Bresler said that the staff is as excited as the children and their parents about the new space, which features more natural light, an open floor plan, and lots of additional room for books and activities.
“The kids love it,” Bresler explained. “The parents love it. There is a lot of extra space. It's very open and it’s a warmer space.”
The new Children's Room is part of a larger project to expand the Oxford Library to meet the needs of the community. In June of 2015, the Oxford Library completed a building project that added 4,000 square feet of space, including a new wing to house the library's main collection. The addition of that new wing freed up space in the original part of the building for the Children's Room to move from the basement to the upper level. New carpeting and fresh paint was needed, and once those tasks were completed, the library staff worked with volunteers to move the books and furniture from the basement to the upper level. That work started in April, and initially, the goal was to move the children's collection in two months. But because of all the help from volunteers, the effort was completed in a little bit more than a month.
“We really had wonderful volunteers to help us,” Bresler said. Some of the organizations that assisted with the work include the Bethany Christian School, Dansko, Boy Scout Troop 13, Brownies Troop 4468, Junior Girl Scout Troop 4644, the Oxford Library Friends, the Pokemon Club, and the Oxford Area High School Interact Club.
Bresler said that while all the volunteers were excited to be helping with the transformation of the Oxford Library, the younger volunteers were the most excited as they anticipated the opening of the new Children’s Room.
“The kids were so excited to help us build this,” Bresler said of the room, which offers approximately 3,700 square feet of space. The room was designed in such a way that that books and materials for the library's youngest patrons are on one side of the room, and the collection targets increasingly older children moving toward the other side. When the Children's Room was downstairs, everything was divided into compartments, but now the floor plan is wide open, making it better for visitors and the staff. Staff members can respond to patrons’ needs faster, and the young adult collection, which was previously included in the main collection because of space limitations, now has a prominent place in the Children's Room.
Erin Miller, the children's librarian, said that she has heard many compliments about the new space.
“Everybody loves it,” she said. “It’s a lot bigger, there’s so much more room. It’s a lot brighter. It has been a very positive reaction.”
The new Children's Room debuted just in time for the arrival of summer—a time filled with activities and programs for children. A grand-opening for the new Children's Room took place on June 3 with state, county, and local officials in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Registration for the Summer Reading Club began immediately after that, a sign that the Oxford Library is ready for the busy summer season ahead.
“We were absolutely committed to getting the kids in here for the summer,” Bresler explained. “The summer is the time of the year when we get to educate the kids the most. We get to see what programs they are interested in, and what they enjoy reading.”
The library hosts an all-ages story time regularly that features an interactive program, including stories, songs, and crafts to boost literacy skills. There is also a Building Block program each Tuesday. The Oxford Lego Club for children ages seven and older meets on select Saturdays.
Bresler credited Miller for not only overseeing some of the library’s regular offerings, but also increasing the programs and activities in the Children's Room.
“She's very enthusiastic,” Bresler said. “She loves her job, and it shows.”
Miller helped introduce a new writer’s workshop for young writers over the age of 12. This group meets each Wednesday as the young writers are provided with different writing prompts to help them craft stories.
Fitness Fun Fridays, at 10:30 a.m. each week, finds children enjoying a different movement activity or fitness presentation. Karate instructors and nutrition experts have come in to work with the children, and more guest speakers are planned as the program moves forward.
Bresler said that the library encourages people to read, but also to also stay active during the summer. The Summer Reading Program for children is titled, On Your Mark, Get Set...Read! For teens, the program is called Get in the game…Read! and for adults, the theme is “Exercise Your Mind,” all indicative of the need to keep both the mind and the body active during the summer.
The enormously popular Science in the Summer program returns this summer. The subject this time is genetics.
“Everybody loves that program. It fills up right away,” explained Miller.
The Oxford Library also hosts a program, Full STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Ahead, which is also very popular. More details about the program, including dates and topics, are available on the library’s website at www.oxfordpubliclibrary.org.
Another main focus of the library is to encourage readers of all ages. Children are challenged to read 1,000 books before kindergarten. There’s a Teen Reads Book Club for that age group. There’s even an Adult Reading Program where adults are invited to read a book and fill out a review card and post them around the library so that others can use the reviews to find books that they like. Bresler said that they would like to expand the Adult Reading Program. She’s also looking forward to having children in the community enjoy the new Children’s Room as they make the library a regular part of their summer routine.
“We want the children to read a little bit every day, through the summer,” Bresler explained.