CRANFORD, NJ — Parents and their children love the Cranford Public Library. It’s a delightful place, but the Children’s Room is a bit crowded, especially when parents come with strollers. Aside from space being tight, shelving is very high and the little ones can’t reach those books and have the hands-on experience they desire.
The last time the library was renovated was in 2002, including the Children’s Room and an adult area on the second floor. The library has been applying for grants since 2015 to expand.
Kathryn Cannarozzi, the library director since May 1 of this year, said they finally have the funding to expand the Children’s Room. She thanked Mayor Brian Andrews, Sen. Nicholas Scutari and Union County Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski, who all worked together to get $2 million in funding from the state.
Cannarozzi said that nothing physical will happen until 2024, but the planning is starting now and they are talking to architects. She’s excited because the Children’s Library has so much to offer and, currently, they have to limit events and limit the number of program attendees.
“We’d like to lift those restrictions,” she said. “We’d love to have it (the Children’s Library) open to everyone. Children visiting from out of town, I’d hate to say ‘no’ to anyone.”
When the library is renovated, Cannarozzi said they will expand on what they have and that the possibilities are endless.
Current children’s events include reading to a dog; children’s crafts; music events, including cultural music; summer reading challenges; and learning to use a computer.
While Cannarozzi is not the children’s librarian, she believes story time is the biggest thing. She said, “Our story times are wonderful. There are puppets. They’ll go out to the park in good weather. Parents will come with blankets and sit on the grass. The kids love it. Parents love it. You watch the toddlers running around, making friends. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. There are tons of things for toddlers to do.”
But parents always ask for more. “They say, ‘Can’t you do this? Can’t you have more computers?’” said Cannarozzi. “We don’t have room. We’re so cramped.”
With renovations, it can all happen. “We have a cute learning center computer,” said Cannarozzi. “It has a touch screen and a color keyboard. We’d like more room for items like that.”
As of now, Cannarozzi isn’t sure how long the renovations would take. Nor is she sure where the Children’s Room patrons will go when the renovations are happening. Or where they will move the children’s items. “We will decide,” she said. “We have time and will be prepared. I’d ask the mayor if there’s available space we’d be able to use; empty storefronts, temporary trailers or a school space in the summer. There’s a lot of possibilities. We’ll all be surprised when we find a place we can end up in.”
For more information regarding the Children’s Room at the Cranford Public Library, visit www.cranfordlibrary.org/childrens.php.
Photos Courtesy of Kathryn Cannarozzi