The children's room at the downtown library will begin its newest chapter on Wednesday, when the newly remodeled space opens to the public. 

Closed since mid-June, the update of the children's room at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library is the first substantial one since the library opened in its current location in 1990. 

The artwork that once brightened the tunnel into the area now decorates Sunnyside Unified School District's Ocotillo Learning Center. Art drawn by local kids will replace it. 

"Nothing says, 'Come in. You're welcome,' like kid art on the walls," says Kate DeMeester, the library services manager and Joel D. Valdez Main Library branch manager. 

Once inside, you'll find bookshelves pushed to the walls, leaving room for collaborative spaces for three distinct age groups: Early literacy; early elementary; and middle grade and tweens. 

The tall shelves of nonfiction on your left when you entered the room are gone. Instead, low shelves full of picture books border an early literacy center, with puppets, a sensory table and two learning stations — basically computers loaded with literacy-promoting software. 

Holly Schaffer, with the Pima County Public Library, explains the features of the early literary center during a VIP tour of the newly renovated children's room.

The children's nonfiction has moved upstairs, joining the rest of the library's nonfiction collection.

Across the room from the early literacy center, you'll find two more learning stations in the middle grade area, for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade. The tween area on the other side of a row of computers has additional furniture for hanging out and age-appropriate books. 

All the children have access to the eight computers at the newly renovated children's room at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. 

A line of chairs in the center of the room keep watch — plugs on each chair make it possible for mom and dad to get comfortable while the kids explore. There's also plenty of space for grown-ups to play and read with kids.

The library wanted "to build great relationships and great interactions," DeMeester says. 

The tween area in particular is meant to provide a communal space for older kids, who are not quite old enough for the library's teen 101Space, says the main library's children services manager Caitlin Burns. The children's room was designed with infants through 12-year-olds in mind, "although there's something for everyone," Burns adds. 

The total cost of the project will likely exceed $288,000. A $57,800 Library Services and Technology Act grant jump-started the project. The grant was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and distributed by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

About $232,000 for the project is coming from the library's general operating funds and primarily covers cosmetic upgrades, says Holly Schaffer, the community relations manager for the Pima County Public Library.  

In the early elementary area Holly Schaffer holds a copy of a children's book from the Flat Stanley series, "Flat Stanley and the Lost Treasure," during a VIP tour of the newly renovated children's room at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library.

The revamped children's room opens to the public on Wednesday, Aug. 29 with a party and meet-and-greet with local children's book author Adam Rex.

The remodel "prioritizes spaces for kids to interact with the grown-ups in their lives," says DeMeester. 

If you go: 

What: Children's room grand re-opening includes bubbles, crafts and cake.

When: Wednesday, August 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Catch musical story time from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.; read-to-a-dog from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; meet-and-greet with children's author and illustrator Adam Rex from noon to 2 p.m.

Where: Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave

Cost: Free

More info: Go here or call 791-4010

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