Brittany Robertson, Staff Writer
On October 25, Jacksonville State University’s Houston Cole Library hosted the grand opening of a new, colorful addition to its 5th floor.
The Children’s Corner Reading Room is an energizing, colorful area designed to foster a love of literature and reading, and to promote literacy for children. Dean of the Library John-Bauer Graham hopes that the new space will open up the library and change the stereotype of the library being a quiet space.
“We want the library to be a place of gathering,” Graham said. “Most students, they know about the lobby and the 12th floor. They grab their coffee and then go up to study, but they don’t interact with the other floors. So, we want this space to draw students in to explore our library, and become the hub of the campus. We want the library to be the heart of this institution.”
The full project took a year and a few months to complete. Students volunteered to help finish the project. Project Coordinator and Education Librarian Laurie Heathcock started the project with the students and children of the community in mind. With shelves full of bright books, and puppets ready for a show, Heathcock’s vision is now a reality.
“I wanted to provide a space for the children here on campus. We have the preschool here so we think this will be a great space for them. We had a lot of volunteer help and I have great ideas for student involvement. We have sororities wanting to do read-alouds, and we are wanting to invite the international students to tell stories from their homes,” Heathcock said.
The room is open to everyone, even students. What makes the space different from the author events held in the past is that those events are sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Students have eagerly embraced the new space.
“I think it’s a great idea because it gives a sense of relief to the hard academics we face in college,” sophomore Erin Snow said.
In addition to weekly read-alouds, the library facility will host book readings and signings by children’s authors and illustrators, present community speakers to share with children on a variety of topics and serve as a space for theater, arts and crafts, and many other types of creative children’s programs.
“I want this space to be like a home away from home for students,” Heathcock said.