Grant aids North Branford library

Published: Monday, May 25, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — Officials are putting the finishing touches on the Edward Smith Library, which reopened in February after a renovation and expansion, with the help of a grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Christian Trefz, owner of the McDonald’s in North Branford, along with Ronald McDonald himself presented library officials with a check for $11,500 last week.

The grant has furnished the library’s children’s section with a wooden “castle” play space and additional bookshelves, Library Director Bob Hull said.

Hull said library officials had planned for a children’s area for imaginative play, but it might not have been possible due to budget constraints. Children’s librarian Debra Verrillo wrote a grant for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Trefz worked with charity officials to secure the approval.

“We had always envisioned it and we always wanted a special area for the kids where they could kind of hide away and play and yet still be in view of their parents,” Hull said. “Either it was going to have to be something very, very modest, like just a couple of bookshelves, or we weren’t going to be able to do it at all.”

Hull said the library is still waiting delivery of a large cushion that will go inside the 12-by-12-foot castle. Other than that, he said, the only item left from the library’s construction is correcting a mistake in the color of the wood panels on the ends of the bookshelves.

The library nearly tripled in size, to 12,000 square feet. The town’s other library, Atwater Memorial Library, has now been closed in preparation for its own expansion and renovation. The combined cost of both renovations is about $9.5 million.

Hull said that the Smith library is now seeing about one-third more users than both libraries combined before the renovation.

“It’s extremely busy here and very gratifying to see the townspeople using it so actively,” he said.

Trefz said the donation was a good fit for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which supports programs geared toward the health and well-being of children.

“It’s really a great organization,” he said. “They chose the furnishings, which is a wooden castle play-scape and other furniture, and it’s just wonderful how this whole thing came together.”

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