7960626878?profile=originalFour columns in the library’s children’s area

were made to look like trees with faces on them.

Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Jane Smith

    Contractors are finishing the new children’s area of the Delray Beach Public Library.
    They’ve added 5,000 square feet to the department, with space for a designated family reading center with a panther statue, a recording studio and a robotics club under the name of the Lynda Hunter and Virginia Kimmel Children’s Library.
    An invitation-only grand opening will be held Feb. 18 and community grand opening will be held Feb. 27.
    It will be a grand space, most everyone agrees.
    At the same time, the library director and a board member began a process to address what they’ve come to call the “Marvin Gaye question”:
    What’s going on?
    Prompted by Mayor Cary Glickstein, who wants the library to justify the use of nearly $2 million in tax dollars, Director Alan Kornblau and library board member Brian Cheslack made the rounds of community organizations in the fall. They told the groups, including the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, Old School Square and the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative, about the library’s offerings.
    In response, they often heard, “I didn’t know that,” Cheslack said.
    In October, they began to host monthly community forums to help the library create a detailed strategic plan. About 25 people came to the first meeting, Kornblau said.
    They reviewed national data provided by the Pew Research Center. That data showed libraries ranked first on importance to the community — above military, police and public schools. That trend played out locally when the Delray Beach library surveyed its patrons and residents.  
    Kornblau also showed state data that revealed that Delray Beach spends less per 1,000 residents on its library compared with Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, but ranks higher on visits and adult program attendance.
    “That’s where we want to be,” Cheslack said.
    “We’re not a Barnes and Noble for the well-to-do, but we are a free public library,” he said. “If the Laugh with the Library event would go away, that would be sad. But if the tax dollars go away, we would be in trouble.”
    On Jan. 25, based on the community input, Kornblau unveiled three areas where the library will concentrate this year: children’s programs, the business resource center and joint programs with community organizations.
    The programs also will include the Downtown Development Authority, Community Redevelopment Agency, Historical Society and the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum.
    The library is upgrading the children’s section through its Foothold on the Future campaign, begun in October 2014.
    “We came up with that name because we are ‘selling’ each square foot of new cork floor for $50,” Kornblau said.
    The new children’s area will cost about $500,000 to redo. The area was named for the head children’s librarian and Virginia Kimmel, who along with her husband, Harvey, offered a $100,000 matching grant. The campaign also received $100,000 from Mark and Becky Walsh, $25,000 from an anonymous donor and the rest from the community.
    Plans call for the children’s section to be moved downstairs beginning Feb. 14 and finishing on Presidents’ Day when the library is closed. That will free space on the second floor for the business resource center. The library will hire a business librarian to staff it, Kornblau said.
    At the Jan. 25 community meeting, Todd L’Herrou, chamber vice president, said meeting space was at a premium in the downtown and suggested providing that as a possibility. CRA Executive Director Jeff Costello said business retention should be addressed, and Kornblau talked about working with two organizations to create an online calendar of all events downtown.

Increased usage a priority
    The library knows it must continue to keep interacting with the community to increase its use, which currently is about 22 percent of residents, Kornblau said.
    He also said patron visits were down 7 percent this budget year compared to last, which was down another 15 percent. He theorized this year’s drop was from the children’s department being on the second floor. Last year’s decrease came about for two reasons: the nearby South County Courthouse is closed on Fridays and more competition for leisure time.
    The library held steady on its electronic requests, he said.
    The library has status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. It has a board that governs what the library does and raises money for projects such as the Foothold for the Future program. Tax dollars support the operating budget.
    The library, along with the city’s other nonprofits, will be able to keep the same level of tax dollars in the next financial year, city commissioners learned in early January.
    What’s the future of Delray Beach library?
    “I don’t want the library doing things they are not good at — suddenly deciding we’re a business incubator or we’re going to rent out space and become landlords,” Cheslack said. “I see the library as an economic equalizer. ... We need to create a library that responds to the community.”


If You Go
Invitation only:
Grand opening of the new Lynda Hunter and Virginia Kimmel Children’s Library
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 18
Where:
100 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 266-0194 or www.delraylibrary.org
Info:
Foothold on the Future campaign renovated and expanded the children’s department.

Public event:
Grand opening of the new Lynda Hunter and Virginia Kimmel Children’s Library
When:
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 27
Where:
100 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 266-0194 or www.delraylibrary.org

7960626895?profile=original

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 9
The Coastal Star posted an event
Jul 8
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in HIGHLAND BEACH
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
More…