Library director Shari Taylor is gearing up for storytime by placing laminated lily pads throughout the newly renovated child and teen space at Earlville Free Library. Today’s story is all about frogs.
Taylor clearly has a passion for storytelling. Her voice adapts to the ebbs and flows of the storyline, putting gusto, when needed, into the frog noises. The young children listening are fully engaged in the story, and learning as they go.
The new area for young people is warm and inviting. Two cubbies with pillows make it a prime spot to relax. Children’s books line the opposite wall and a jungle theme has taken on a life of its own with stuffed animals dangling freely from tree-like wall fixtures. The renovations were funded by a Community Foundation grant.
Taylor stressed the need for a more defined children’s area, noting antsy children made for chaotic storytime. She also wanted to add a new section focused solely on teens.
“We wanted to create a space where teens would feel comfortable in the library,” said Taylor. “Our hope is that they will also discover new books and technology while they’re here to expand their learning.”
For many, the library is a light of hope within a rural school district where nearly 50 percent of students and their families are considered economically disadvantaged.
“It’s truly hard for people to live here and make a go of it,” said Taylor. “That is one more reason the library is really important. Here, the community members have access to technology that they might not be able to afford at home. They can come here and use our public computers or our Wi-Fi to do homework, apply for jobs or conduct business.”
According to Taylor, the patrons love the fresh, up-to-date look. In the future, the library plans to incorporate more features that will entice teens to visit.
“I would really like to add some special touches that make the teens feel like the space is theirs,” said Taylor. “We would love to implement teen programming, too, so that there are more things for them to do here.”
The Earlville Free Library has been the hub of the community for more than 100 years. Over that time, the organization has been host to countless programs, including Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, 1,000 Books before Kindergarten and monthly do-it-yourself projects.
Taylor pauses as if to reflect and a smile appears on her face. “We just hope to continue all that we have been doing and grow,” she said. “We want to be the go-to spot for the community into the foreseeable future.”