The Evanston Public Library reopened this morning after shutting for a week to move into newly remodeled spaces for children and teens.

Mac's Garden

Mac’s Garden features a toddler-sized entrance.

The new children’s space has zones designed to appeal to kids of different ages.

Library Director Neal Ney says his favorite spot is Mac’s Garden, a semi-enclosed area for infants and toddlers featuring soft padded flooring to crawl on and some fanciful plant-like sculptures.

Karen and Gabriel Kim-Guisbert check out a book in Mac’s Garden.

Overall, the remodeling doubled the size of the children’s room to 15,000 square feet.

Just inside the first-floor entrance, Kinderspring lets kids control a fiber optic light display meant to resemble a fountain.

Globes and a 40-inch video monitor form an Interactive Wall with a flexible seating space.

A Garden Gates area provides child-size seating and discovery boxes that hold prizes or toys.

And there’s a Gazebo, with a portable puppet stage for child-produced shows.

Children’s librarian Jan Bajda says the new space was popular from the moment it opened, with perhaps 200 visitors passing through in the first three hours.

Teenagers get their own space on the library’s third floor as part of the redesign. It features study rooms, comfortable seating and a small stage for readers theatre or poetry readings.

Half of the $2.4 million remodeling project was funded through the city’s capital improvement fund budget. More than $460,000 came from individual donors with the rest coming from a variety of sources including library endowment income, book sale proceeds and a state library construction grant.

The official dedication ceremony for the the new space is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, with a variety of other special events to be held that weekend.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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