Central Library opens portal to new children’s room

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With the motto “A portal to reading, a portal to fantasy,” the newly renovated children’s room at Cranston Public Library opened their doors officially on Saturday, June 3.

With the room designed to encourage the youngest of readers to explore books and stories, the room has a honeycomb wall to settle in with a good book. Several reading nooks and benches for story hours.

Even the doors have keys etched in them to reflect the portal theme.

“Construction started in December 2016 but the actual project has taken over two years since we started planning and getting funding back in November 2014,” said Director of Cranston Libraries Ed Garcia.

Construction went fairly smoothly with only a few unforeseen issues including some asbestos abatement of a tile floor that was unexpected, Garcia added.

“The design of this room is inspired by portal fantasies, stories in which characters travel to other worlds via magical doorways o transportation devices. Library visits should be an experience, not just an errand,” said Garcia.

They’ve incorporated playful elements throughout the room to make all visits special. 

“A major goal of this project is to connect the children’s room to the teen area. With a large opening between the Children’s program room and the teen room, there’s now a free flow from one end of youth services to the other,” Garcia said.

With close to 100 people attending the ribbon cutting ceremony, guests were anxious and excited to see everything the new room had to offer.

“I wanted a room that a 7-year-old who say, ‘I want to come back’ I want there to be an enthusiasm beyond books, that there is a full environment to be experienced,” said Jack Tregar, chairman of the library board.

After Garcia offered his opening remarks, he made sure to thank all the Cranston library staff (Julie Holden, Emily Brown, Barbra Hayden) who supported and guided the project. He also acknowledged Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services, Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) and Susan Straub, Executive Director, Ocean State Libraries.

As well as local elected officials, Representative Robert Lancia, Mayor Allan Fung, City Council President Michael Farina and Council members Paul McAuley and Chris Paplauskas.

“This space has not been refreshed since 1983. It is time that this becomes a place for the children of today. We want it to be an inviting, whimsical space that celebrates reading. We want the children to sit and get lost in reading, get lost in a story, to use their imaginations,” he said.

Garcia was also pleased and proud to announce that so many local companies were used to complete the project. LLB Architects, (Pawtucket) Chirico construction, construction managers, Cole Cabinetry (Cranston) the honeycomb wall, children’s desk and all custom cabinets, Lumetta (Warwick) did the custom manufacturing on the portal lights and Carina e Dulce (Cranston) donated the cupcakes for the kids to enjoy.

Each one of the portal lamps in the main area, is a representation of a children’s classic book.

Harry Potter, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Wizard of OZ, A Wrinkle in Time and Where the Wild Things Are.

Mayor Fung, before cutting the ribbon, spoke about the new room.

“This is such a wonderful time to celebrate our most important asset; our kids. To be honest, I am jealous. I would love to have a honeycomb nook in City Hall. It is important to make sure all our kids enjoy all aspects of what the libraries provide,” he said.

Fung also brought up the point that Cranston Public Libraries received the honor of being ranked in the three library systems in the country for community outreach.

After the Mayor cut the ribbon, kids went into the program room to have snacks, they took books into the honeycombs and went on the computers to play games.

“I love the library. I simply love everything about it. It is my favorite place to go,” said 3-year-old Alice Faulkenberry.

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