It’s play time at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library, located at 999 Old Country Rd., as its long-awaited Storytime Playroom is open for business. Library officials recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new room.
“There was a show in the auditorium for the kids and everyone came back over to the Family Center to see the new room,” Library Director Gretchen Browne said when recalling the ribbon cutting. “There had to be more than 100 people waiting to get in. We couldn’t allow everyone to go in at once so we had to let them in dribs and drabs to give the kids the opportunity to play with the toys.”
The origin of the playroom stems from a few years ago when Pat Pollack, a department manager at the library’s Family Center, saw how many libraries had similar playrooms, but the library didn’t have their own.
“When this library was originally built, it was not considered,” Pollack said. “As libraries have evolved, other libraries that were getting new buildings started from scratch and incorporated it. We didn’t have the luxuries to figure out where we can make the space.”
Right next door to the Family Center was the technical services office, and Pollack noticed that there was some space available that they could potentially use.
“Technical services only had two to three people working in it and about six desks,” Browne said. “The Family Center staff asked ‘Do you think it would possible to break down a wall here and open this up to make a playroom for the kids?’ And I thought that was a brilliant idea.”
They reached out to an architect who drew up the plans to make it work. The library was able to secure grant money from public library construction aid ($177,640) and through then-Senator Carl Marcellino’s office ($50,000) to move forward with the project.
“We didn’t have to ask the taxpayers for a penny outside of our normal operating budget,” Browne said.
Outside of the knocking down of the walls, the only thing added to the room architecturally was a perimeter bench that was created and installed. It serves as seating for the adults who are in the room with their child. Segments of the bench can be lifted up to store toys that are in the room. The room has been carpeted to make it feel comfortable for the children. While the room doesn’t have many decorations as of now, Browne said they will be looking to hang murals and maps to make the room more colorful.
In terms of safety and health measures, the library installed a security system on all the doors where no one but staff is allowed in or out of the room for the children’s safety. They put out wipes and sanitizer as well to make sure the toys can be wiped down before and after the children use them.
Pollack says the reception to the room from the Plainview-Old Bethpage community has been excellent thus far.
“We’re thrilled,” Pollack said. “You hope that its everything the community wants and then to see [the children’s] face lighting up, we know that they are enjoying it. When we opened the doors, the little kids didn’t know which way to run first. There’s people who weren’t aware that we were opening this. They come in and they are thrilled.”
Activities in the room include a duplo table and three play panels on the wall. They also have many regular toys such as trucks, Lego sets, kitchenettes and much more for the children to enjoy.
In the fall, the library will begin their next big project as they will be starting their $1 million project to renovate the basement.
“It’s an original basement from 1964 with the same flooring and lighting,” said Browne. “The bathrooms are not handicap accessible. So all of that work needs to be done. Paper work has been filed with the state to approve architectural renderings and once that’s done, we can approve grant money for that project.”
To learn more about the library, visit www.poblib.com.