Reinberger Children’s Center offers new activities and books, as well as bright primary colors

Natalie Pillsbury

A dreaded trek to the third floor of the library in search of reference materials may result in an uplifting discovery. Down one of the typically yellow-lit corridors appears a bright patch of primary colors. No, you are not hallucinating; this is the Reinberger Children’s Library Center.

“We have fun in children’s and young adult,” said Helena Richardson, a graduate assistant who works in the center. “Other classrooms are more straight-laced.”

The Reinberger Center is a little more than a year old and is used by the School of Library and Information Science to train children’s, young adult and school librarians.

“There are three main children’s categories: birth to 5, school age and young adult,” said Aurora Mallin, another graduate assistant in the center. “All classes are held in here.”

Students can find a variety of unique children’s books and illustrations in the center. It houses everything from pop-up books to an enormous stuffed bear named Dewey. The walls display a collection of actual illustrators’ work, such as a signed illustration from Dragon’s Merry Christmas by Dav Pilkey, a Kent native.

“People who don’t know where they are spot colors and wander in,” Richardson said. “We could use more visitors. It is open for browsing.”

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday this semester.

Richardson encountered a student visitor who was hoping to connect with a childhood memory.

“He came to the door and asked if we had any Curious George books,” Richardson said. “Then he explained by saying, ‘My name is George.’”

Outside of being a unique space, the Reinberger Center is being updated and hosting new programs, incuding a new section for award-winning books.

The newest winners of awards such as the Newbery and Caldecott medals were announced at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, held Jan. 14-19 in Boston.

“We are lucky to be able to get all of them,” Richardson said.

Richardson organized a program involving the Child Development Center last semester. Classes of 3- to 5-year-olds were brought in for winter-, snow- and animal-themed activities.

“I read them four stories,” Richardson said. “Some involved participation. The children jumped up and down and made hand motions.”

An underlying theme of the program was to teach kids how to respect books.

“They practiced learning how to Richardson is planning another program involving the Child Development Center for later this semester.

“If you get overwhelmed by campus, this is somewhere colorful to go,” Richardson said. “It is a small heaven to work here.”

Contact Library and Information Services reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].