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Kingsport Public Library's new children's section boasts 'Wow!' factor

Matthew Lane • Jul 9, 2017 at 8:00 PM

KINGSPORT — After months of construction and renovation, the Kingsport Public Library debuted its new children’s area on Friday.

Kids, it’s time to find a book.

For the past six or seven months, the children’s area has been closed to the public while construction was underway. Kids’ books and other material were relocated to other parts of the building, but on Thursday the entire library staff worked to move all the stuff back into the new children’s area.

On Friday, the library officially reopened the area to the public.

“We think it’s awesome,” said library director Helen Whittaker. “We hope it has a ‘Wow!’ factor and we really want the kids to come in and think this is a super place to visit.”

Valerie Morgan brought her two sons — Macklin, age 3, and Campbell, 20 months — down to the library on Friday, searching hard for just the right book.

“I really like it. It’s very bright,” Morgan said. “We come down once a week for story time and will likely come down more often now.”

The children’s area has been transformed into a brighter, more functional space. The elevated area in the back now has different sections: one with a play kitchen, a room for the “reading to dogs” program and a youth services office. The wheelchair lift has been removed, and in its place is a long, green ramp.

Trudy Price has been volunteering her canine friends for the “reading to dogs” events for about five years. On Friday, she brought Charlie — a shih tzu/poodle mix — and her boxer Gracie to the library to christen the new reading room.

The two small bathrooms have been replaced with one large family restroom,which features a changing station. Just outside the restroom is an interactive Lilly Table, which resembles a giant iPad, where kids can play games, use art programs and enjoy educational activities.

The new children’s space has a woodland theme, with brown carpet, a blue vinyl “stream” running through the middle of the room, and bookshelves topped with land and water animals. If the shelf is in the “water,” a duck or frog stands atop it; on the carpet, a bird or squirrel.

On the ceiling are light rings and clouds.

“We still have roughly the same amount of space, but it’s a more efficient use of the space,” Whittaker said. “The big thing is actually for the staff. We have four people working in 100 square feet. They were on top of each other. Now, we have more room for them, to plan programs and we’re able to move the play areas into different spaces in the (children’s area).”

A few final things still need to be done, Whittaker said. Library staff members are shifting some books around, a few countertops for the shelves need to be installed and the library is waiting for the new play kitchen toys to arrive. Nevertheless, the children’s area is open to the public.

A grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 29.

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