The refresh of Kids’ World — inside the Arlington Heights Memorial Library — opened Monday to the oohs and ahs of hundreds of youngsters and their families.. Among the highlights were the new Everbrite wall — think a life-sized version of the classic Lite Brite game — and an interactive floor projection system, as well as an Imagination Station and Baby Garden for little ones.

Children at the Everbright Wall (photos by Stephanie Baptisa/AHML)

But off to one corner of the department, just inside the exciting portal-like entry, is a designated creative space just for Tweens, that quietly drew slightly older children to explore its expansive offerings.

Much like the library’s own Makerplace, the Tween Maker Space provides youngsters with crafts, fabric, games, books, LEGOS, STEM supplies — and even small machinery, such as a button maker, for hands-on DIY creations.

Monday’s opening drew Pat and Nancy Moroney of Arlington Heights, with their 10-year old grandson, Ryan. He was among one of the first to tinker with some of the supplies and let his imagination run wild.

It was a special moment for the family. The Moroneys donated money for the Maker Space’s main components, namely the Tween Maker Table and the Kids’ Tinker Cart, allowing the dream of creating the space to come true.

The donation was made in memory of their son, Jeff, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 31.

Tweens work at the Maker Space Table.

“Jeff was a maker himself,” said his father, Pat. “He worked to create high tech machinery and even turned his garage into his own maker space. He would have loved this. He loved creating things.”

Tween Librarian Kerry Bailey said designating a separate creative space for tweens had been more than eight years in the making, and had been identified as a goal in its 2018-2022 strategic plan.

“We want the library to offer a continuum of services, for patrons in every stage of life,” Bailey said. “We never want to lose anyone in the library world.”

The last time Kids’ World was renovated was in 2010. This latest refresh was three-months in the making, and drew major donations from the Friends of the Library and the library’s Foundation. The project’s ultimate goal was to create an inclusive learning atmosphere with hands-on opportunities, including its newly designated Tween Space.

A projector overhead operates the new floor projection system.

“Creating more learning and socialization opportunities for school-age children — especially tweens (grades 4–6) — was identified as an audience to develop in the library’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan,” says Trixie Dantis, Youth Service Manager. “We hoped to create a space where a broad range of ages and abilities felt welcomed and could find something that interested them, where families could learn and explore together.”

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