HomeArticlesRenovated Burton Barr Central Library to reopen June 16

Renovated Burton Barr Central Library to reopen June 16

Burton Barr Library
Seating area on the fifth floor of the Burton Barr Library. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Just in time for summer, a cool space reopens that welcomes your kids with open arms — and even better, it’s all free!

Burton Barr Central Library reopens at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, after being closed since flooding forced it to shut down last July. To kick off the big event, there’s even going to be a party.

Lee Franklin, the library’s communications director, says the Saturday festivities will have something for everyone, including a lot of activities for little ones.

“In the Children’s Place, we will have a fairy princess visit, and at 11 a.m. that morning, we have magician Eric Guilliam performing,” she says. “In our rare book room, we’ll be having an open house where we’ll fire up the printing press, and you can make your own memento.”

Children’s Place under renovation at Burton Barr Central Library.

Just getting a chance to visit the revamped Children’s Place at the library promises to be a lot of fun. During the renovations, Franklin says, “The space was more than doubled in size to over 14,000 square feet.”  Brightly colored walls, lots of new state-of-the-art kid-friendly furniture and new play features have been added for children from birth to age 12.

New, too, is the Storytime Space. What was once a closed-off area has been opened up with the hope that it will encourage more parents and their kids to stop in and enjoy the stories being shared. Franklin says it’s all geared toward “fostering a love of reading for families with their children.”

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The makeover of the Children’s Place also means new opportunities. Franklin says she expects more events to be scheduled such as the popular 2016 Maurice Sendak (author of “Where the Wild Things Are”) art exhibit.

“We hope to bring more programming like that with this expanded space,” she says. “With the larger space, we have more flexibility.”

Overall, the renovation took nearly a year and cost about $10 million — mostly covered by insurance.

If computers are what you are looking for, those too can be found in the children’s section with new games and educational offerings designed for young children. There will also be a “mini makerspace” for the younger set. (On the fourth floor, there’s already a MACH — makers, artists crafters and hackers — spot for older kids).

And of course you can expect more books! In addition to titles and types of books, there will be more of each book available to check out.

The Children’s Place renovation was actually in the plans before the flooding last year, so rather than waiting to do the renovations and shutting down the section again, the decision was made to complete the work while Burton Barr was already shut down.

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“Probably my favorite part is we involved a lot of experts that really  know what they are doing in designing programming and interactive methods for families to help their youngsters learn and develop a love of reading,” says Franklin. “It’s fun for children, but they are also getting those crucial language, word and vocabulary developments that will help launch them into being very strong at school.”

It’s all a good reason to check out the new children’s section, and an even better reason to go to a party.

For more information, visit phoenixpubliclibrary.org


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