WESTFIELD, NJ — With the Westfield Memorial Library closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the children’s department is undergoing redecoration due to the generosity of the Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library.

The children’s department now features a series of arches made to capture the beauty of nature, decorated with flowers, creatures and other greenery. All of the painting was done by Caren Frost Olmstead of the Olmstead Mural Group and CFO Designs.

“I really love the idea that when the kids come back it will be like the library bloomed, like it transformed while we were gone,” said Molly Adams, the library’s head of youth services. “It's a good thing in the midst of all the bad.”

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“It's sort of made like an enchanted garden,” said Carol Skotnicki, a member of the Friends. “She’s [Caren] hidden probably 20 objects in among all the artwork that kids can search for and find.”

The Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library supports a variety of programs and services for the library throughout the year. The group requested that Olmstead work with the library after viewing her murals at the Jefferson, Franklin and Wilson Elementary Schools, according to Skotnicki.

Library Director Philip Israel said the staff is looking forward to the library reopening with a new and more welcoming look for the children’s department.

“The children's department is the heart of any library,” Israel said. “It’s the foundation to get children interested in books, reading, learning and finding out new things. We're excited that when we reopen the children's department will have a whole new look to it that hopefully inspires the kids and makes the department more welcoming to everybody.”

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While it is closed, the library still has a number of resources available for patrons through its website, including e-books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, movies and TV shows. The library also hosts virtual story times held for children and various guest lecturers that can be accessed through the library’s Facebook page.

Although the library has no definite reopening date, Israel has already predicted that new social distancing guidelines will need to be implemented. The library will likely have less seating to space patrons out and plexiglass barriers around service areas, according to Israel.

To support the library, Westfield residents are encouraged to use the library’s online media and to support the Friends to allow the library to host more virtual programs and improve the library before reopening.

“They can support the Friends by going to the Friends’ webpage and donating. Their main fundraiser, the spring book sale, was canceled this year because of the virus,” Israel said.
To support the Friends and the library, visit https://fwmlnj.org/ to donate.

Shreya Jyotishi is a sophomore eat Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

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