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October 6, 2012

Makeover for Manchester's littlest readers' space

MANCHESTER — Often overflowing with children attending special events, Manchester Public Library should soon host more little readers more comfortably.

A $275,000 renovation of the children’s room began just weeks ago, but has been in the works for a long time and is slated to finish up in November, according to Library Trustee Alison White. Renovations include a handicap access ramp from outside, a digital projector, an outdoor book drop-off, integrated technology, new furniture, and a new ceiling and carpeting.

“It’s pretty much gutted in there,” Rachael Theriault, head of adult services at the library, said Friday.

Theriault gestured to a doorway blocked off by plastic. Outside, a mini bulldozer had dug a space out for the handicap ramp.

Money for the renovations came from a combination of fundraising and trust fund dollars, according to White.

The library, set to celebrate its 125th birthday on Oct. 14, was designed by architect Charles F. McKim, the same man who designed the Boston Public Library and New York Penn Station. The children’s room, the only addition to the library, was constructed in 1965. Over the past century, the library has undergone some renovations and rooms have been re-purposed, but the children’s room will be the first major change since it was created as an addition.

The 125th birthday bash, also celebrating the kick-off of renovations, will include cake and books on the library lawn from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Children can take the opportunity to swap out some books they’ve been hanging on to for a while. The library, right before renovations began, extended the amount of time and number of books children could borrow.

“Tons of people came in,” Theriault said. “We wanted children to take out as much as possible.”

But parents who missed the rental opportunity shouldn’t fear, their children can still scoop up Halloween book favorites. Sara Collins, head of youth services, set aside seasonal and other books to swap out during renovations. Librarians situated the seasonal books along with a variety of other children’s reads in the adjacent room with teen books and multimedia.

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