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Renton library upgrades kick-off KCLS summer reading program
Final upgrades to Renton's two libraries finished just in time for the summer reading programs this year.
"It's a good place to be," said children's librarian Bernadette Salgado of the Renton Highlands Library. "(Families) come and stay for hours, because it's a comfortable place."
New paint, carpets and furniture came as a promise from the King County Library System, after the city voted to annex its libraries to KCLS in the February special election.
The Highlands location received the bulk of changes with new carpet and paint. About 10 computers line the middle of the library and readers are greeted by the plush reading chairs.
The children's area is marked by stripes of yellow and red carpet. It received four computers on kid-sized desks. There are plans for a mural.
The changes offer a sense of newness, but they aren't dramatic, said mother Wendy Pantle, also owner of The Green Preschool.
The same dark painting of coal miners and two large wood carvings cover the back walls. The shelves are the same.
Both libraries are now equipped with standard KCLS amenities, including self-checkout stations, free printing and roughly double the computers.
The entryway of the downtown location was opened up by removing a checkout counter island and connecting security gates.
The libraries are seeing changes with programming and staff as well.
Salgado, also the children's section supervisor for five KCLS libraries, plans to fill the children's librarian position in downtown Renton.
"I don't want to give up working with kids," she said, adding that she leads story times for each of the libraries she oversees.
At the Highlands branch, kids played on a nearby sculpture while others tugged on locked library doors. It's a few minutes before story time, and the kids are excited.
"It's a great activity to break up the day," said Jenny Schrepfer, mother of three. "It's kind of like a mini-class."
During story time Salgado worked with the about 25 kids to develop early literacy skills, through music and rhymes.
"It's enriching for the kids," said Pantle, who regularly brings her 10 preschool students.
Alongside story times, KCLS is running a summer reading program, which rewards kids for reading.