Hayden Library hopes to inspire imagination with its new children’s area
After more than two years of hard work, Hayden Library Director Ana Lash is excited to welcome people inside the new children’s area during an opening celebration at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9.
“It was quite a fun adventure, and I’ve never realized it would take so long,” Lash said. “It is definitely kind of a highlight of the library for many people — not just kids, but adults.”
Lash is thrilled with how the area turned out from the fresh coat of paint on the ceiling that brings visions of a summer sky to hanging lights that appear to be clouds filling the air. Also, there is a chair fit for a queen where children will enjoy story time, and Lash hopes the setting will inspire everyone who enters to chase their imagination into the pages of a book. The idea for the throne was Lash’s.
“Many years ago, I was in Vancouver with my daughter, and we went to a bookstore and they had this beautiful blue throne chair in their kids area,” Lash said. “It was quite a journey to get (the chair). It is made in America, which is really cool, and the Friends of the Library actually paid for that, so that was kind of a wonderful gift.”
Lash said that in addition to the Friends of the Library, the renovation project was supported by the Babson Carpenter Civic Foundation. Lash said that support helped create a special place where children can create great memories and discover a love of reading.
“I think the idea is that the kids get to sit in the throne and feel like they’re surrounded by a magical forest,” said muralist Julia Ben-Asher, who painted the scene that encompasses the wall behind the chair. “The mural is kind of designed for the throne, and I think it worked best to have the characters be animals that anyone will know about, and it’s a little bit more accessible.”
The room has a bird theme and features the art of wildlife photographer Gerhard Assenmacher, whose images of eagles, pelicans, ducks and owls fill an entire wall from the ceiling to the floor. Assenmacher allowed the library to choose the photographs from his website to make sure they fit into the bird-inspired theme and then donated them to the library.
Wednesday’s celebration will include Assenmacher, who will talk about his photographs, after young reader Jimmy Stanczak kicks things off by cutting a ribbon that officially opens the room.
“I’ve known him since he was born, and he’s the sweetest kid ever. He’s been with me on this whole journey and through the whole process — he’s such a good reader,” Lash said. “I just out of the blue asked him, and you would have thought I had given him a pot of gold. He’s really excited.”
In addition to the improvements to the space, the Hayden Library also purchased more than 100 titles of a new collection of Playaway and Vox audiobooks.
“It’s books that read themselves to kids,” Lash said. “They’re like audiobooks, but you get the actual paper book and there is a little MP3 player as well.”
Lash has plans to roll out the new collection in the days following Wednesday’s opening celebration, a day that she has been looking forward to since the project started just prior to the arrival of COVID-19.
“We were just like, ‘Let’s try to use what we have,’ and it just took off,” Lash said. “It’s just been super fun getting it done, and my happiness factor is now that we are done, we’re going to have a grand opening.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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