Friends Making Plans For Grand-reopening

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Lane Library Children's Room Open On 'Limited Access' Basis

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, March 18, 2004

IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK! - Ryan, Caelie and Kate (pictured) try out new furnishings in the Lane Memorial Library's Children's Room, which is now open on a "limited access" basis. The Friends of the Library are planning a grand-reopening currently set to take place on Friday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m.
[Atlantic News Photo by Bill Teschek]

HAMPTON - Though it's not quite 100 percent childproof just yet, the Lane Memorial Library Children's Room is now open on a "limited access" basis, after being closed down since mid-January when frozen pipes burst and caused extensive water damage to the facility.

Thanks to the combined efforts of library staff, volunteers and others throughout the community, the Children's Room is close to being restored to complete functionality. Books, videos and other items may once again be borrowed, though they must be signed out at the circulation desk on the library's main floor. A few loose ends -- including the eventual installation of the Children's Room circulation desk and making sure all books are where they belong -- are in the process of being addressed.

Kids and parents who have been eagerly anticipating a preliminary visit to the Children's Room can now stop by to check out the freshly-painted, sunny yellow walls, new carpeting flecked with blue, red and yellow, and new shelving which was brought in last Friday. New furnishings include a giant denim beanbag chair and smaller "cushy" chairs in bright primary colors, provided by the Friends of the Library.

According to Children's Librarian Cindy Stosse, about 400 of the 600 water-damaged books have been replaced thus far. While many of these books have been specially ordered, numerous others have been supplied by families and individuals in the community. For instance, among the scores of books donated by sisters Amy and Nicole Strong was a collection of 39 "Franklin" series paperback books - a gesture which could easily be described as an unselfish sacrifice by big fans of the popular storybook character.

BOOKS ARE 'IN THE BAG' - In the soon-to-be-reopened Children's Room at the Lane Memorial Library, volunteers Elder Thomson (left) and Elder Slade (right) are pictured here bagging up children's books and tapes which were then donated to the Hampton Head Start program. [Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

The Craig family, says Stosse, generously donated non-replaceable Frank Asch children's books, while brothers Ryan and Brandon Hanley were some of the first to make a donation. Rachel Green brought in a box of books, and first graders in teacher Kathie Street's class at Centre School offered their own generous donation of 100 books. Stosse says many books and videos have been dropped off anonymously.

"People weren't leaving their names," she reports. "They were just leaving books. There was just such [a generous] outpouring."

Donations of precious personal time and talent on the part of community members have brought the grand re-opening of the Children's Room even closer. The Friends' Bob Thompson crafted a wood book case (complete with intricate leaf detail) for teacher resources and wood racks for holding music CDs. Thompson's handiwork was brought home and stained by Mitch and Helen Skinner. Four library tables which had become blotched with water spots were carefully refinished by John and Connie Holman.

"They worked very hard," comments Stosse. "It's just been such a community effort." Stosse also credits the Friends of the Library with helping to move things along toward their collective goal of officially re-opening the Children's Room (a ribbon cutting ceremony is currently being planned for Friday, March 26).

"The Friends have gone above and beyond to [obtain needed items] so we could get them quickly," says Stosse. "Wasting no time, orders were placed for new furniture, not to just replace what was lost, but to enhance the area for the children. New 'child-size' chairs were ordered, as well as [the] beanbag chairs." Stosse adds that the Children's Room "is the Friends' project this year."

The same "above and beyond" efforts could easily be said of library staff members. Stosse says they "had to check every book for water damage," going through "the whole collection" of 10,000-plus books. "We did a lot of weeding," Stosse observes, adding that "we're trying to come with wish-lists to maintain our collection and keep it current." In that regard, Stosse says she's "always excited about getting new books - I'm like a kid in a candy store."

Children's Room patrons don't need to wait until the grand-reopening to stop by to see the changes, though Stosse wants to "impress upon parents to be aware of where their children are" during their library visit. In addition, the Friends of the Lane Memorial Library will be meeting on Wednesday March 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the Dorothy Little room in the lower level of the library. This is an open meeting and all current and prospective Friends are welcome to attend. Agenda items include planning for the grand re-opening of the Children's Room on Friday, March 26. The Friends will be providing refreshments and assisting with the event; volunteers are needed.

For more information about the Friends meeting, contact Friends President Dot Gooby at 926-4069. For additional information regarding the Lane Memorial Library Children's Room, call 926-4729.

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