Manhattan Public Library construction expands Children’s Library

Recently the Manhattan Public Library went under contrustion to expand both the children's department in the north and south expansion and room for future changes with the second floor of the North addition remaning unfinished. "Our goal was to make the expansion look like it wasn't an expansion," Director Linda Knopp said, "People walk by and ask if this has always been there." (Mason Swenson | The Collegian)

According to the project overview on the Manhattan Public Library website, the library expansion project is estimated to cost $2.125 million and add 4,300 square feet. This doubles the current space dedicated to the Children’s Library, the renovation of which will include a new story time room, a parent and teacher resource center, and an outdoor garden.

“Having kids be able to be outside and be safe is a really great part of our expansion,” Laura Ransom, librarian, said.

The fenced-in garden will act as a place for outdoor story time and an additional reading area.

“With story times, we experienced really large crowds for a while and that is a deterrent to some people because they are feeling enclosed, and some kids don’t like it, some parents don’t like it,” Jennifer Adams, Manhattan Public Library’s children’s service manager, said. “We have a really big space now, so we shouldn’t have that issue anymore.”

With the additional space, the collections will be able to expand and the media materials will be relocated into the children’s area. More computer stations, with touch screen technology, will be added as well.

“It’s always challenging to think about how libraries can grow with the way our society and culture is changing all the time,” Adams said.

The primary source of the expansion’s funding is through the library’s capital campaign, which raised one-third of the costs privately. Donors have an opportunity to name a space or functional area for donating certain amounts. According to the project overview on the Manhattan Public Library website, a permanent display in the atrium of the library will recognize all those whose donations met or exceeded $500.

“It’s special to see how many people came together to say, ‘Oh yes, I really want to make this a special place for kids,’” Dani Schapaugh, Manhattan Public Library’s public relations coordinator, said. “It was something a lot of people could really rally behind.”

Construction by Kelly Construction Group Inc. is on schedule to be completed by mid-December.

“We had to close off some of our entrances, but they are all open again.” Adams said. “It’s definitely calmed down now that the outside structure is complete.”

The internal construction is now in the process and is already showing progress. Laminate wood flooring, as well as new lighting, has been installed in the story time room already.

“The crew has been amazing.” Schapaugh said. “Everything has been on time or ahead of schedule and they’ve been able to adapt to changing circumstances.”

On Jan. 17, 2015, the Manhattan community is invited to celebrate the end of construction at the library.

“We are inviting the community to come out and celebrate with us,” Adams said.

There will be refreshments, a performance from Kansas City-area performer Rockin Rob, recognition of all the donors and activities for kids. Children will have the opportunity to take their picture with children’s book characters as well.

Updates on construction are posted to the Manhattan Public Library website.