SYCAMORE – Linda Klein has visited the Sycamore Public Library’s children’s section countless times, but it was all new to her Wednesday.
Colorful handprints from children finger painting on the wall led her to the renovated space, which opened Friday.
“You have a new area,” she exclaimed to Megan Davis, assistant director of youth services, upon seeing the spacious new children’s section. “It’s beautiful.”
Klein was making her weekly visit to the library with her 3-year-old grandson, Cohen, who wasted little time getting to work on a puzzle at one of the expanded activity areas in the now-colorful room.
Klein, who frequently brought her children to the library for storytime years ago, said it was great to see the facility updating its areas to keep children and adults interested in reading.
“Reading has always been very important to me,” said Klein, a retired teacher. “I’ve always thought this library has done a very nice job ... and this new area is great.”
The new children’s area is the first of a four-stage renovation plan that will cost the library about $580,000 in total. Renovations also will include moving the circulation desk to the first floor by the front entrance and creating more space and outlets for wireless Internet users. The first-floor renovations are expected to be complete by August.
The renovations are being paid for with a combination of a $125,000 state grant and $319,000 in reserve funds.
Library officials also are seeking City Council approval for a $405,000 loan, which could come as soon as Monday.
If the loan is approved, the library may use excess funding for exterior improvements.
The renovated children’s section features more space for storytellers and performers at the back of the room, more activity areas for “Toddler Time,” and will have computers for educational games, Davis said.
One of the best features of the renovation, Davis added, is it will have designated areas for preschool and kindergarten students and another for elementary students. She said it would make all children feel more comfortable about coming to the library.
“I think the older kids felt like they didn’t want to come in to get books at a certain point,” she said. “[The split] should help.”
The elementary student portion will not be finished until early August.
Sarah Tobias, executive director of the library, said feedback from parents who have used the renovated area thus far has been positive. She said it has a much more welcoming and colorful feel.
“It’s very inviting to the kids,” she said. “And it still feels like everything is kind of crowded ... wait until we can open this whole area.”
Even those who had only limited exposure to the library were impressed with the new room. Michelle Jackson, who said she had visited just three times, believes the renovation will keep the library relevant.
“I think it’s very important,” she said of the need to update. “And it makes things more convenient.”
The library will be closed for five days starting Sunday for staff training, construction and the holidays.