Mt Laurel Library unveils new activity room

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – A new space at the Mt Laurel Library has already accommodated hundreds of people for events in the two weeks since it opened.

The 700-square-foot addition was built to provide much-needed room for library programs, community meetings and small, private events.

The addition opened with a Friends of the Library Sneak Peek on Thursday, June 2, and then on Monday, June 6, the library hosted 160 people for its summer reading kick-off, the first official public event in the room.

“Overall, everything has been great, and the feedback has been positive,” said Kate Etheredge, director of library services for the North Shelby and Mt Laurel libraries. “The room is beautiful, and our Friends of the Library, led by Ann Price, has generously purchased furniture and art for the space.”

Etheredge also credited Cathy Murphy, a local resident, with donating flower prints; Earl and Alice Perkins with donating the 65-inch TV/monitor; and the builder, Yellowhammer Construction, with doing an excellent job with the finishes.

In addition to the first two events, the addition has accommodated the Tween STEAM program, meetings of the Monday Mixers (a Mt Laurel community group) and a community group for Double Oak Community Church.

“We also have booked the room for a few more upcoming community meetings and had several inquiries about rentals,” Etheredge said. “We have 34 more summer reading events planned including events for adults, tweens (8-12-year-olds) and children. Most of the summer reading programs will be taking place in the new room.”

In a previous interview, Price said the versatile space would allow the library to host many more children and families, especially for summer reading activities.

“We’ve had a little frustration of having to cut off registration in a lot of our children’s programs because we just can’t accommodate them, and this will open up those new possibilities,” Price said.

The construction of the addition started in December and was financed by the North Shelby Library, of which the Mt Laurel Library is a branch.

Mt Laurel’s addition is a part of a larger renovation project to revamp and expand the children’s area at the North Shelby Library, too.

The addition also includes a storage room, kitchenette, restroom and a tornado safe space for staff and patrons.

Shelves on one end of the room house the Friends of the Mt Laurel Library book sale selections and displays of community interest, which frees up space in the John Freeman Community Room in the main library building for expanding the library’s current collection of books and materials.

Tables for study and video access in the John Freeman Community Room will remain in place.

O’Kelley Architecture and David N. Brush Landscape Architecture created the design plan and landscape design for the addition.

“We are excited for the possibilities it brings the community as a programming space and a gathering space,” Etheredge said.

Regarding summer reading, people of all ages may still register for it through July 15, which is also the last day to log books or activities.

“This year’s big prize is a community ice cream party,” Etheredge said. “The children have already earned the party by reaching 10,000 points. The next milestone is 70,000 points, which they are about to reach. Each goal adds toppings, flavors and other goodies to the party.”

To register, go to Northshelbyreads.readsquared.com. Participants do not have to have a Shelby County Library card or read books from the library to participate. There is also an app, ReadSquared.

The library’s other upcoming events include the following:

• TomFoolery – Monday, June 20 at 2 p.m. The event will feature juggling, unicycle, stilt walking and balancing acts—comedic fun for all ages.

• Lee Bryan, “That Puppet Guy” – Monday, June 27 at 2 p.m. Attendees can see a puppet show, Circus Fanta-Sea, performed by family favorite Lee Bryan, “That Puppet Guy.”

• Gene Cordova – Wednesday, June 22 at 11 a.m. for ages 8-12. Professional ventriloquist Gene Cordova teaches how tweens can make a puppet real and also how to give him or her a personality. He will also cover non-verbal puppetry. Registration is required.

For more information about events, visit Mtlaurellibrary.org.