ROCKINGHAM — Pee Dee Electric has given the Thomas H. Leath Memorial Library a $5,000 grant to renovate its children’s area and to convert library space into a “makerspace” complete with a 3-D printer.
A makerspace is an area designed to allow for creative tinkering, often with new technologies or the use of analog tools.
The way the library is set up now, the children’s area sits at the back near an exit door — far away from parents who come in to work at computers near the checkout desk. The situation makes the children’s are unsafe, said Deborah Knight, outreach coordinator for Leath Library.
The library will use some of the grant money to buy Nabi tablets — similar to iPads but loaded with educational games — so that children can be entertained and still be near their parents.
The Care to Share grant is part of a larger effort by the library to bring in more families and promote literacy in the community.
“Libraries are more than books now,” said library supervisor Shannon Hearne, referring to the way digital technology has taken focus away from physical books. “We want to be a community hub.”
Knight said the plan was to have the 3-D printer available for reservations before the next school year. By then, staff will be able to use it and offer introductory workshops to the public.
“I hope it’s going to bring people into the library,” she said of the changes. “It’s a great opportunity for children and parents together in a safe and educational environment.”
Pee Dee has partnered with the library numerous times during the years to provide support or put on educational programs, such as an electricity-safety demonstration that included a static orb kids could touch to make their hair stand on end.
The Care to Share grant is “our way of caring for our community,” said Cathy Page, vice president of member services for Pee Dee Electric.
The library’s summer reading events used to fill up the Cole Auditorium at Richmond Community College every year, Knight said, but librarians realized that kids never made their way back to the library afterward.
Now the events are kept smaller so they can be held at the library. Registration is available at www.srls.info.
Children’s Book Week, when kids can get a free book when they check out one, will start Saturday and run through May 6.
Deborah Knight reads to children at a recent story night at the Thomas H. Leath Memorial Library. The library plans to refurbish the children’s space to make it safer.
Earlier this year, library outreach director Deborah Knight contacted Alyson Hoffman of the Richmond County Extension, asking her to provide an incubator and eggs children could monitor over several weeks. Knight delighted in playing mam hen, although not all of the eggs hatched.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]