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Washington Heights library opens

photo of a sunny children's library room with a small table and bookshelves.

The 3,300 square foot children’s room in the Washington Heights Library, photographed on Feb. 28, 2014, will also provide arts and crafts and ESOL classes. (© Claire Pires 2014)

HOST INTRO: After a more-than twelve million dollar renovation that kept it closed for four years, the Washington Heights Library is set to open this Monday. Claire Pires visited.

On the final business day before the Washington Heights Library opens, contractors are on their knees hammering in nails and moving furniture. Twenty-five desktop PCs and 24 brand-new Apple computers still have protective mesh covering them. And the 3,000 square foot children’s room glistens. Francina Frias will take her son there.

FRIAS: “I’m excited about the children’s room ‘cause I’m a mother and I know my son is going to love it. So, I’m gonna bring him by whenever we’re off and I’m sure all of the kids are going to enjoy it.”

The children’s room is complete with neon orange retro chairs, green and yellow striped carpet, and maroon tables

decorate a vast space surrounded by full-length windows. Arts and crafts, yoga, live music, and speakers will come to the room. They also plan to invite nearby classrooms to visit so kids can get library cards. Kassandre Innocent is a librarian.

KASSANDRE INNOCENT: “We have book lovers still. Also, the library also has E-Books. We help people get on with the E-books. Teachers are still asking children to bring, to get their resources from books, not just the Internet. Yes, we have that, but you need another resource and we’re gonna provide that.

Vianela Rivas is the library manager. She thinks the library will benefit the predominately Spanish-speaking community in Washington Heights.

RIVAS: “We’re gonna have computer classes for the Spanish speakers in Spanish and we’re gonna have computer classes for English, too.”

Free English classes will happen twice a week.

The library now has fifty-six computers, up from four, a smart TV where kids can scroll through the Internet and play video games, and an elevator, something they didn’t have before The neighborhood has changed since the library was last open. Ian Brand is a library assistant.

BRAND: “There may be more people here who are looking for a place to go, a place to take their families, then possibly before.”

Librarian Kassadre Innocent is not worried about this library’s success.

INNOCENT: Books I don’t think will ever go out of fashion.”

The library will open this Monday at 10a.m. with a grand ceremony followed by an art workshop.

Claire Pires, Columbia Radio News.


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