NORTH AURORA – Janene Albrecht of North Aurora watched as her two young sons, Kendall and Andrew, played with a wooden train track in the newly renovated youth services department at Messenger Public Library in North Aurora.
“They love coming here and playing in the play area so I can look at books,” Albrecht said.
Work recently was completed on an interior renovation of the library’s youth services department.
As part of the renovation project, the youth program room was redesigned and expanded.
“Our programming room was inadequate to meet our needs,” Messenger Public Library Administrator Kevin Davis said. “We are seeing more and more patrons using the library, especially families.”
An open house for the new Barbara Messenger Tinker Youth Program Room will be from 1:30 to 4 p.m. April 12 at the library, which is at 113 Oak St. in North Aurora. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 2 p.m. that day.
Tinker was the daughter of library founder Emeline Messenger, who died in April 2000. Tinker died in 2011.
The new youth program room already is being put to good use.
“We’ve been doing craft programs in here, and we’ve been doing story-times in here,” said Michelle Kurczak, head of youth and teen services for Messenger Public Library.
Other aspects of the project included the centralization of the information and service desk in the youth services department and a reconfiguration of shelving. In addition, a screened porch became an off-desk work room for staff as part of the project.
Davis said the porch rarely was used by patrons.
“We now have much more space to do our work, and we also have a much better view of what is happening in the department,” Kurczak said. “Before, staff was stuck in a corner. Now, we are front and center.”
Batavia-based Kluber Architects + Engineers designed the renovation to meet the new challenges that libraries face today.
“A library is not just a storehouse for books and materials anymore,” Davis said. “It’s really more of a community center.”
Kluber Vice-President Christopher Hansen said the firm knows the challenges that libraries must deal with.
“It’s really designing libraries for more flexible use and adaptable space,” he said. “Libraries are being used differently these days.”
Along with the other renovations, newly expanded computer stations were relocated to a perimeter wall in the department, allowing parent and child to work side by side.
“You see a lot of interaction now between parent and child working at a computer station,” Hansen said.
The renovated youth services department also features colorful walls and tiles, and several new pieces of flexible furniture also were provided throughout the space to accommodate group and individual study/reading areas.
“We have been getting good feedback from our patrons,” Kurczak said. “They like that it is more colorful than it used to be.”
That includes feedback from nanny Danielle Schneider of DeKalb, who cares for a North Aurora family and brings them to the library on a regular basis.
“It looks terrific,” she said. “It’s more spacious.”