The James City County Library children’s section is finally undergoing renovations after 23 years.
On Sept. 10, the Board of Supervisors approved a bid from Virtexco Corporation for $310,000 in renovations in the existing children’s area this fall, according to county documents. The Friends of the Williamsburg Regional Library Foundation also provided an additional appropriation of $97,000.
The renovations will create a new Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio and a reading and play area designed in a children’s museum style.
In the studio, there will be interactive elements such as projection walls, air tubes for physics experiments, a ball wall with magnetic ramps and spinners, and other contraptions that allow the children to experiment and play.
There will also be a large illuminated pixel peg wall, a LEGO wall, a microscope, virtual reality stations and a Build It Center with ready-to-use, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math projects.
In addition, the children’s area will also provide a “Village” portion which will be an area designed like a small community with plastic groceries, a veterinarian and house furniture and accessories.
Renovations will also turn what is now the current storytime room into an art studio with easels, tables and craft supplies.
The goal of the renovations is to provide children with a place to build literacy skills while having fun at the library.
“Children begin learning literacy skills from birth — well before they even understand what reading and writing are,” said Sandy Towers, Williamsburg Regional Library’s youth services director, in the news release. “Play is the chief learning activity of preschool children, and toys and games are their first reading tools. Essentially, play is the most important ‘work’ of children.”
The current children’s area is set to close in late September and the library expects it to reopen in early 2020.
While the area is closed, there will be a small collection of children’s materials and a small play area in the Kitzinger Community Room at the James City County Library. There will still be children’s librarians available for assistance and additional children’s programming will be offered at the Williamsburg Library and the Stryker Center.
A major part of the funds for the library came from the Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library Foundation, the James City County Capital Improvements Projects fund, and three local Kiwanis clubs in addition to private and business donations.
“The library is a center for learning in our community, and the best learning environments offer a rich variety of educational experiences,” said Betsy Fowler, library director, in the news release. “The Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio will offer both traditional book collections and hands-on, creative activities for families to learn together and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Editor’s note: This article previously said that James City County gave $97,000 toward the renovations. That money was given by Friends of the Williamsburg Regional Library.