Hidden children’s center in University Library

Iris Harvey, vice president for university relations, reads to children from the Child Development Center at the University Library on Thursday. Photo by Anthony Vence.

Cassandra Beck

Hidden behind the stacks of scholarly journals and periodicals is a full-size children’s library center with 8,000 children and young adult literature resources.

The Reinberger Children’s Library Center is located behind the elevators on the third floor of the University Library and is a part of Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science.

Thursday morning 36 children from the Child Development Center listened intently as Iris Harvey, vice president of University Relations, read four picture books.

The group of children eagerly responded as Harvey read and asked questions about the readings and the children’s lives. When asked if the children had any pets, they stood up or yelled out their answers.

“I have a dog; I have a cat; I have a fish!” one child said.

Another exclaimed that she “feeds her two goldfish.”

“A lot of people don’t know it’s up here. It’s nice to just come up here and get away.” – Flo Cunningham

“Looks like I’ve started a small riot here,” Harvey joked at the children’s outbursts.

The Children’s Library Center has story time a couple of times a year, often read by a university administrator.

The center includes a storytelling area, a teen area and electronic resources area. Children’s artwork and mounds of puppets line the brightly colored room, giving it the feel of a preschool classroom.

“A lot of people don’t know it’s up here,” said Flo Cunningham, University Libraries marketing communications and public relations director. “It’s nice to just come up here and get away.”

Within the center, two glass doors lead to another room called the Marantz Collection, which houses a collection of picture books acquired over the past 40 years by educators Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz. The couple has co-authored eight reference works on the picture book, written thousands of reviews on the picture book as an art form and given numerous lectures.

The Marantz Collection holds autographed children’s books and first editions dating back to the 1920s. The room also serves as a resource room for students needing to research authors and illustrators. The center does not allow any material to be checked out but is open to the public.

SLIS uses the center for classes in its graduate program, which include classes such as Library Materials and Services for Very Young Children and Library Materials and Services for School Age Children. There is a graduate student on staff during all open hours.

The center houses a large pop-up book section and changes display cases based on featured authors or illustrators or even holidays and weather. The center has rows of desks facing a podium and overhead screen. The room has an interactive videoconferencing facility that SLIS uses for distance learning in its Children’s and Youth Librarianship program.

The Reinberger Children’s Library Center has two to three programs a year where classes from the Child Development Center come in to use the room. The center continues to grow as it adds to its collection.

“Occasionally, parents bring children up to use the room,” Cunningham said. “That’s nice when that happens, and you see children in here reading.”

Contact Cassandra Beck at [email protected].