Innovation abounds even before the new Hyattsville library breaks ground

April 8, 2016

The Ready to Read center at the Largo-Kettering Branch Library. Photo courtesy the Prince George's County Memorial Library System.

BY REBECCA BENNETT — At the March 10 Prince George’s County budget listening session, Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2) said a milestone in the FY 2017 budget is $32.7 million for construction of the new Hyattsville Branch Library, which is financed through a bond.

More details about the long-awaited Hyattsville library reconstruction were announced at the March 12 Prince George’s County Friends of the Library meeting, including an updated timeline estimate, a temporary library location and details about the new children’s’ space. This as patrons can already see the library system innovating its approach to childhood learning.

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) is currently in the construction document stage and plans to submit for permits at the end of summer 2016, according to Chief Operating Officer for Support Services Michael Gannon. The tentative closure date is currently set for late winter 2016 with construction possibly beginning in the spring of 2017, said Area Manager Cathy Hollerbach. According to library officials, there are many variables involved and the estimated closure date could change if the construction process moves faster or slower.

A temporary location for the Hyattsville branch will be nearby in a space at University Town Center. According to Gannon, the county leased a space across from Bonchon on the ground floor facing the splash fountain.  In July 2014, library officials speculated the temporary location could have been complicated by a possible large overlap with the New Carrollton renovation and end up somewhere between the two branches.  The New Carrollton branch is now expected to reopen at the end of summer 2017, Gannon said.

The Ready to Read center at the Bowie Branch Library. Photo courtesy the Prince George's County Memorial Library System.

The Ready to Read center at the Bowie Branch Library. Photo courtesy the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System.

Gannon told library friends that the goal is to have no single-use spaces in the library.  He said story areas are becoming childrens interactive areas. “We only have story time two times a day, so that space gets wasted,” he said, adding that they are also combining bookstores with vending machines and cafe areas.

Many libraries are being fitted with play areas that PGCMLS wants to make destinations. The overall theme is “Discovery,” with the Hyattsville branch theme being “Discovery Village,” which will be based on children’s literature, Gannon said.  Features will include a castle wall, a yellow brick road, little houses that children can read in with sticks and brick and hay from the Three Little Pigs, a knight in shining armor, and a dragon.

According to Gannon, “Discovery Town,” the children’s area which will open after the Bowie library renovation, will include a number of exhibits PGCMLS has inherited from the National Children’s Museum (NCM). NCM was located at National Harbor until it closed indefinitely to find a new space.

PGCMLS said it has already opened “Ready to Read” centers at 10 area libraries, including the Hyattsville branch.  According to a press release, “Ready to Read centers encourage young children to talk, sing, read, draw/write and play.”  Recent visitors of the Hyattsville branch may have noticed a play kitchen and other hands-on resources in the children’s section.  Earlier this year, the Hyattsville branch changed its storytimes to “Ready 2 Read” storytimes.

Prince George's County Memorial Library CEO Kathleen Teaze is presented with a National Library Week proclamation by the Prince George's County Council.

Prince George’s County Memorial Library CEO Kathleen Teaze is presented with a National Library Week proclamation by the Prince George’s County Council.

Patrons can check out Ready 2 Read backpacks for up to three weeks, which include an assortment of books and activities on a theme. The Hyattsville branch has also had an Advanced Workstations in Education (AWE) Literacy Station for some time, which is a touch screen learning station toddlers and preschoolers can use for interactive learning.

According to PGCMLS, The Prince George’s County Council passed a proclamation commending the library system’s contribution to the community in honor of National Library Week (April 10 to 16).  For a complete list of National Library Week activities, visit www.pgcmls.info/website/1042.