Florham Park Public Library children’s area being renovated

By Steve Sears

 

On May 20, the Florham Park Public Library began renovations of its Children’s Room.

 

The library is working with Soyka Smith Design Studios on the project, and anticipated completion is sometime in July. The renovation budget is $310,000, which comes partly from an increase in the library’s operating budget for this year, and partly from a bequest savings account. The Borough of Florham Park has also contributed $10,000 towards the project. 

 

Nancy Aravecz Shah, Florham Park Library Director, said, “The work being done is mainly cosmetic, so construction is projected to last four to six weeks. We will be replacing the carpeting, converting a closet into a computer room, and adding a small walled-in playroom. We are getting all new furniture, including shelving, and moving the librarian’s desk to a more optimal location in the room.”

 

During the renovation, the Children’s Room will be closed to the public, and a temporary browsing collection for children and teens will be in the current library teen area.

 

The project officially commenced in 2022 with a community survey submitted to Florham Park library patrons, asking them for suggestions as to how the children’s area could be improved. 

 

Shah said, “The feedback we received was that the community was looking for more comfortable seating, more play options, an interactive play space that would cater to young ones and special needs kids, and a layout that made it easier for parents and kids to find reading materials that are age and reading-level appropriate. Our shelving and carpeting in that area of the library has seen quite a bit of wear-and-tear and is at the end of its life, so it was also time to start looking at updating them.”

 

Shah and Youth Services Librarian, Kate Dinneny, performed a study to identify ways to re-organize the shelving in a way that made more sense to library users, and produced a plan to improve the layout of the room. Shah presented that plan to the Florham Park Public Library Board of Trustees, who tasked her to reach out to interior designers, architects, and furniture vendors and get quotes for the project. 

 

Providing community meeting space has always been a big component of the library’s service to Florham Park, but it has become more important since the COVID – 19 pandemic. 2022 and 2023 were two of the busiest years on record for the Florham Park Public Library when considering circulation, patron visitation, program attendance, and community meeting rooms usage. The Children’s Room itself accounts for about 25% of the library’s public space, and nearly half of overall circulation. Also, the library has added more storytimes to its weekly schedule to meet demand, and regularly has 30 – 40 children and their caregivers in attendance. 

 

Dinneny added, “Our Children’s Room usage has really exploded in the post- COVID world, and it has been thrilling to see so many Florham Park families learn about their town and form new relationships with each other in our space. This is really what sparked the idea that we could make the space more functional and welcoming, the fact that so many new families were spending time with us. Even though they already love the space, everyone I have spoken with is excited to see what we have planned. I am most looking forward to the reactions from families as they explore the space and see the fun surprises we have in store for them!” 

 

The Florham Park Public Library is located at 107 Ridgedale Avenue. Visit www.florhamparklib.org for more information.

Images courtesy of Soyka Smith Design Studio

4) Take the reader to renovation completion. What will the public see and feel when entering the new space – physically, mentally, and emotionally?

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