WILKES-BARRE — After months of planning, fundraising and labor, the work of one group came to fruition — and was quickly put to good use — at the Osterhout Free Library on Saturday.
The library and members of “Team Bookworms” from Leadership Wilkes-Barre proudly unveiled a newly renovated children’s activity room to the masses with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, quickly putting the room to use with a special storytime for children by local author Cynthia Post Mitchell.
Leadership Wilkes-Barre is a community leadership development organization that helps foster civic engagement by young professionals in Greater Wilkes-Barre.
Team Bookworms member Diane Fritz happily swiped through photos in her phone showing how the space used to look.
Old carpeting and a lack of storage were primary issues, making it difficult for children to perform various crafts and other activities.
“It looked like a storage unit,” she said. “So we came in and overhauled it.”
Fritz and library Youth Services Coordinator Elaine Rash cut the ribbon to open the renovated room, although perhaps the attention was not on the ribbon-cutting as much as the new, bright cobalt blue carpeting complete with scattered magnifying glasses, books, apples and, yes, bookworms.
The eight-member Leadership Wilkes-Barre team began working on the project around November, according to team member Matt Hinton, after the library pitched the project as a possible idea.
“We chose this one because it was a tangible project that you can see a beginning, middle and end to,” he said. “You could see it kind of unfold.”
After some reorganizing and planning, team members began fundraising with the help of Rodano’s on Public Square. With the funds they raised — along with some generous donations from local businesses such as Sherwin Williams and Mariotti Building Products — the team was able to paint the walls, install cabinetry and extra storage, and replace the old carpeting.
To add some finishing touches, Hinton said the group hung artwork the library had in storage from artist Eric Carle.
After the ceremony, children eagerly took advantage of being the first to utilize the room by participating in a role-play storytime with Post. The Dallas native has written several children’s books revolving around a character named “Carrie Flower.”
Handing out a stuffed sunflower and multiple hand puppets — each representing a character in the story — Post had the children complete the book “Carrie Flower Goes to Camp” before donating the books and characters to the library.
Rash said the activity room will see much more use now that it’s been revamped, including movie and storytimes, arts and crafts, and programs for infants, toddlers and more.
“It looks beautiful, it’s much nicer than it was,” she said.