What’s New at the Chesapeake Central Library?

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By PHYLLIS A. SCHIRLE

If you haven’t been inside the Central Library on Cedar Road lately, now is a good time to visit. The flagship building for the Chesapeake Public Library (CPL) System has some great new features to offer patrons along with traditional programs and services plus a friendly staff ready to help.

Early Childhood Literacy Centers

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One of the core missions of the Chesapeake Public Library (CPL) is to provide the services and programs that support early literacy skill building so that children are able to enter kindergarten ready to read.  With this in mind, the Library and the CPL Foundation launched a fund raising campaign in September 2012 to establish Early Childhood Literacy Centers in every CPL branch. Called Smart Start Chesapeake, the campaign is designed to raise $250,000 to refurbish the children’s rooms in all seven libraries with early literacy materials and equipment.

Libraries are a great place for early childhood literacy centers with the easily accessible neighborhood locations, existing children’s spaces and professionally trained staff. The Library provides a cost effective place to intensify literacy and developmental outreach to disadvantaged preschoolers.  The Library staff connects parents and children with the six skills that children must have in place in order to be able to learn to read.  We teach the skills (vocabulary, phonological awareness, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills and letter recognition) through five critical activities: singing, talking, reading, writing and playing.

The Central Library Children’s Room was the first and biggest project in Smart Start Chesapeake. Work began in June 2013 to transform the room into an Early Childhood Literacy Center.  Former Library Director Betsy Fowler planned the renovation project which was launched prior to her retirement on June 30. Acting Director Victoria Strickland-Cordial, a former Children’s Librarian, has picked up the torch and kept the project on track.

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The new layout incorporates interactive play areas for the children and caregivers featuring Burgeon Group play stations.  The Burgeon Group installations are specifically designed for public libraries to provide an encouraging and interactive rich learning environment designed to promote language and reading development, teach basic counting and vocabulary skills, and encourage social interaction. The creations are playful, fun and instinctively understood by children while helping the Library meet the mission of early literacy skill building.

One of the most eye catching elements of the new room is a fun, whimsical and colorful mural designed by Dana Donaty. The room also features comfortable seating areas for caregivers and children to play and read together, reformatted shelving to provide a more open space, a window seat for reading and relaxing, display tables for browsing, early literacy computer stations with touch screens, and family computer stations. Based on the public reaction when the room reopened in August, the new format is a big hit. Kids and parents streamed into the room and gravitated to the new book displays, interactive play areas and early literacy computers.

Visit the Foundation website at www.cplfonline.org for more information on supporting Smart Start Chesapeake.

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Wallace Memorial History Room

A newly designed Wallace Memorial History Room, featuring the combined Norfolk County Historical Society Collection and CPL’s new Virginia Regional History Collection, has recently been completed and will open in early November.  The new room is located on the second floor of the Central Library and will be available for patrons to use during normal library operating hours. The room features two separate historical collections:

The Norfolk County Historical Society (NCHS) Collection

The NCHS Collection includes materials for use in historical and genealogical research with emphasis on the City of Chesapeake and the surrounding areas of Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina. In addition to research materials, the Wallace Room has a collection of artifacts of local interest on display.

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In addition to maintaining a collection of magazines of historical and genealogical interest, the Wallace Room also houses a collection of older newspapers from the area.  These are contained on microfilm and may be viewed and printed on the microfilm reader/printer available in the Wallace Room.

The Virginia Regional History (VRH) Collection

The VRH Collection is a newly developed collection of materials provided by the Library. The VRHC covers all aspects of Virginia’s history and includes items of interest in the Atlantic coastal region, centered on Virginia. A large variety of books have been collected over the last year to launch this collection.

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Note: All items in both the NCHS and VRH collections are for reference and available for use in the library only. They may not be checked out of the library.

Interior Upgrades: The 68,000 square foot Central Library features browsing areas with new book displays on the first floor, comfortable reading niches in the window areas, a “living room” area on the first floor featuring a large collection of magazines and newspapers, with past issue available for checkout, a café with Wi-Fi, a Reference/academic area in the quieter section on the second floor and upgraded quiet study rooms with Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and soft lighting.

Job Help at Your Library:

Want to find a new job but not sure where to start? Trained library professionals can help you with your job search using online websites and job listings provided by OppInc, our Workforce Development partner. One-on-one help with résumé writing is available by appointment. Laptops can be checked out with a photo ID and used in the library for up to 4 hours at a time. Use these computers to create a résumé, search job listings, fill out applications, or take online classes to enhance your qualifications. The Library also offers free faxing, notarizing and test proctoring.

This is only a sample of the many wonderful things the Chesapeake Public Library provides for our community. Over the last 5 years the Chesapeake Public Library branches have been transformed into vibrant community gathering places by using teamwork, determination and creative community collaborations. The staff moved projects forward with a can-do spirit, renovating aging interior spaces into modern, inviting libraries, reinventing library services in powerful meaningful ways through the addition of job help and early literacy training, and reaching out to the citizens of Chesapeake with creative programming. It’s not your grandma’s library any longer, so maybe it’s time to stop by and see what’s new at the library!

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2012 Statistical Data for CPL

  • Population served:  219,960
  • Total Annual Budget:  $8,039,734
  • Per Capita Budget: $36.55
  • Circulation:  2,544,675
  • Percent of the Budget Spent on Materials: 10.2%
  • Visits: 1,287,912
  • E-Use (in-house and remote if available):  Visits to Library Home Page:  472,836;

Public Computer users:  565,386

  • Number of Staff/Percentage of Staff who are Professional Librarians: 27 Librarians (21.95%)
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