The fresh paint on the walls isn’t the only new thing patrons will see at the Roswell Public Library, 301 N. Pennsylvania Ave., after a year that altered how and when the library could operate.
Some changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic and a leak that flooded portions of the building will be long-term, while new programs to encourage reading, especially for children, are already underway or will start soon.
The painting this week was the result of an overnight water leak from pipes over the restroom in June. The children’s area, entry, lobby, circulation area and Bondurant meeting room were flooded, but no collections were damaged.
The purple color behind the front desk and in the children’s department are now repainted in a silvery-gray.
“It just brightened up the whole children’s department. The staff is feeling pretty happy about that,” Library Director Enid Costley said.
Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.
Support Local Journalism
Repair work from the leak is still ongoing and the children’s department remains closed to public access, although requested materials can still be checked out. Walls had holes drilled into them to help them dry out and for repairs after the water was drained, and those are now being patched and repainted. Reconstruction of the restrooms near the entrance is slated to begin as January gets underway.
The children’s department will undergo a transformation of its own in 2021 with help from the Burgeon Group, a Phoenix firm that specializes in interactive design for public libraries. The Roswell library has featured the firm’s interactive panels in the children’s department, but will now expand from that, Costley said.
She contacted the firm and explained about the flooding.
“They only work with a couple of libraries a year, and they contacted me and said, ‘We would like to work with you,’” Costley said.
Floor plans for the children’s department were sent to the company this week and Costley has talked with the firm about incorporating familiar sights in the design such as Roswell’s alien street lights, the courthouse and other landmarks. She also suggested using aspects of the area’s geography in areas for different age groups.
“One of them would deal with the wetlands and one of them would deal with the desert, because in Roswell we have this interesting smush of two different ecosystems. We have some really unique animals and plants in the area,” she said.
The work will be paid for from general obligation bonds approved by statewide voters for libraries in 2016 and 2018. Some of those funds were used to install sneeze guards and other coronavirus safety protocols, new self-checkout machines and a permanent service window for the Library on the Go program that was started when the library was closed to the public in March.
Using the GO bonds for those projects means that the original intended use — a mobile library service — is now on hold. The bookmobile is still in the library’s plans when pandemic restrictions ease, however, as Costley said, a recent estate gift and other large donations have been set aside for that.
The Library on the Go service, in which patrons can call to request items and pick them up at the service window, has remained popular and will continue, Costley said.
“We get calls every day,” she said.
Also popular are Science, Technology, Engineering and Math kits that can be checked out. Peggy Bohlin, who was hired as a STEM instructor at the library just before the pandemic, created them based on research from the National Science Teachers Association.
STEM-themed books in the children’s department have stickers identifying an accompanying STEM kit. Each has materials and instructions for activities for the children and their families to do.
“We are actually making more of those kits,” Costley said. “And I’ve talked to (Bohlin) about planning on doing face-to-face programs so that when we can do face-to-face programs we have gotten all our materials in place.”
In January, the library will start its Ready to Read and Ready to Learn programs designed for children not yet in kindergarten. Based on early childhood research, the programs will offer prizes for children who reach certain goals. The goal in Ready to Read is for children and their parents to read 350 books a year or 1,000 books before entering kindergarten.
Ready to Learn offers age-appropriate activities children and parents can do together that help them reach developmental milestones in areas such as cognition, social and emotional development, language literacy and physical development.
The library will also have a pilot program with Sierra Middle School to encourage students to get a library card.
“I’m excited about that,” Costley said. “The first step is to get a card and then the next step would be to start using the library card.”
To encourage that, small games and trivia questions will be placed around the library and students will get a reward such as a piece of gum or a candy bar for playing.
Research has shown that once children are comfortable coming to the library through school or daycare programs, they then want their parents to take them. Parents then see the materials and programs available and become library users themselves, Costley said.
“Now we have a whole family that uses the library, so that would be the ultimate thing that would be wonderful to happen,” she said.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.