GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn Public Library officials hope the library's newly renovated youth department will be an inviting place for children not only to read, but also to play and learn.
The remodeled department welcomed its first patrons Dec. 27 following a $1.1-million project that began in September 2015. During construction, the department temporarily was housed in the library's meeting room.
The project goes beyond just a splash of new paint. Among the fresh amenities are a new middle school room, expanded youth program room, children's interactive play area and early reader nook. Improved furniture also was added throughout the department.
"One of the reasons we wanted to remodel the youth department was really to meet the changing needs of users today and give Glen Ellyn families a better space," said Renee Grassi, the library's youth department director. "One of the things that you will see in the space is that it is such a more welcoming and open department. It is very inviting, not only with new colors on the walls and new carpet, but the layout is much more welcoming and inviting."
The new space also features more technology, including five new computers. The new middle school room is called "The Middle," the name coming from a contest the library held to name the room.
"It gives them a sense of ownership over the space," Grassi said. "It is a great place for them to read and hang out. We've already seen a lot of use. I think it makes them feel grown up."
The children's play area features interactive play panels for children of all ages, a pinwheel-shaped discovery activity table, walk-up Lego wall, interactive magnet board and puppet theater.
"What we wanted to do was give a lot more opportunities for kids to interact with each other and play in the youth department as well as find books they enjoy and read," Grassi said.
Glen Ellyn resident Will Sullivan and his family are regular users of the library. His 4-year-old son, Ian, recently was checking out the new play area.
"He loves it," Sullivan said.
The father also was impressed with the renovations that were done.
"They've improved the lighting so it is a lot more brighter," he said. "It looks bigger, but it is still the hometown library."
Families can tour the new space and participate in a full day of activities during the library's Renovation Celebration event, which will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 30 at the library, 400 Duane St.
The day will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., followed by family story time at 11 a.m. Other activities include a big balloon show from 2 to 2:45 p.m.
More information is available at the library's website, gepl.org.