Bethany has children’s library

BETHANY – The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children’s Library, fully renovated and redesigned, has taken up residence on the main floor of Bethany College’s T.W. Phillips Memorial Library.

The library and Bethany College’s Department of Education will celebrate the new library’s opening with a Children’s “Seusstacular” Celebration from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on March 9.

The event will feature games, skits, read-alouds, drawings and prizes for children, themed around classic Dr. Seuss stories.

Under the pen name Dr. Seuss,Theodor Seuss Geisel published 46 children’s books throughout his life. His birthday on March 2 has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative created by the National Education Association.

The event will involve various faculty, staff and student groups.

Angela Icard, assistant professor of reading education, and Heather Ricciuti, the college’s director of libraries and learning resources, are working with Heather Holeva, a sophomore psychology major from McDonald, Pa., to host the event as part of Holeva’s Kalon Scholar project.

Under Ricciuti’s direction and with the help of several people, the children’s library has evolved from a small collection of children’s materials to a fully renovated and redesigned child-friendly environment.

Education major Leslie Lacaria converted the space into Kids Korner for her senior project.

The project turned the space into a welcoming, family-friendly resource and featured handmade decorations, a chalkboard table, stuffed animals, games, reading materials and more.

One of the features of Kids Korner has been a monthly story time coordinated by library staff and involving volunteers from the college and popular with local families.

The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children’s Library was announced in 2007. Funding for the new library was given by the late Lynn Adkins and her husband, Tom Lyons, in honor of their grandchildren.

Adkins served as a professor of education and social work and was the former chair of the teaching and social services department during her time at Bethany.

The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children’s Library originally operated as a satellite library within the Judith R. Hurl Education Center, which is the former Bethany Primary School.

During the spring 2012 semester Ricciuti consulted with Toni Robinson, Adkins’ daughter, and the decision was made to move the collection back to the main library.

“We wanted to offer extended hours and make the collections more accessible. We believe the move better serves Dr. Adkins’ intent that it be readily available for the community to enjoy,” said Ricciuti.

“It’s great to see the work that has been done in order to realize the library’s potential,” she added.

Ricciuti said the library staff takes a lot of pride in making the space comfortable and inviting, and she’s hopeful the library will be used by students, parents and children.

Visitors arrive in the library through an archway that Ricciuti said is “intended to create the illusion of entering another world.”

All of the furniture in the library space at the Judith R. Hurl Education Center was moved to the new space on the main floor of the library.

“It provides a great atmosphere for children, as well as students, to learn and read within,” said Ricciuti.

“I think Dr. Adkins would have liked what we’ve accomplished, and I’m confident her family will, too. We’re excited about what we can offer the community,” said Ricciuti.