Bethany College Children’s Collections Expands to T.W. Phillips Memorial Library

BETHANY, W.Va. — The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children's Library, fully renovated and redesigned, has taken up residence on the main floor of the T.W. Phillips Memorial Library.

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The Children’s Library, under the guidance of Heather Ricciuti, director of libraries and learning resources since 2009, evolved from a small collection of children's materials originally housed on the upper level of the main library. Education major Leslie Lacaria ’03 re-envisioned the space into “Kids Korner” for her senior project. The project turned the space into a welcoming, family friendly resource and featured handmade decorations, a chalkboard table, stuffed animals, games, reading materials and more.

One of the features of Kids Korner was a monthly Story Time coordinated by library staff. Story Time involved volunteers from the Bethany College faculty and staff, fraternities, sororities, clubs and classes reading to children and engaging them in related crafts and activities. Ricciuti said these events were popular with local families.

Further enhancements were made to the collection when The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children’s Library was announced in 2007. Funding for the new library was given by the late Dr. Lynn Adkins and her husband Tom Lyons in honor of their grandchildren. Dr. Adkins served as a professor of education and social work and was the former chair of the teaching and social services department during her time at Bethany. The Grace Ryland and William Henry Robinson Children’s Library originally operated as a satellite library within the Judith R. Hurl Education Center. During the spring 2012 semester Ricciuti consulted with Toni Robinson, the daughter of Dr. Adkins, and the decision was made to move the collection back to the main library.

“We wanted to offer extended hours and make the collections more accessible. We believe the move better serves Dr. Adkins’ intent that it be readily available for the community to enjoy,” said Ricciuti. “It’s great to see the work that has been done in order to realize the library’s potential.”

Ricciuti said the library staff takes a lot of pride in making the space comfortable and inviting, and she’s hopeful about the usage the new area should see from students, parents and children alike. Visitors arrive in the Children’s Library through an archway that Ricciuti said is “intended to create the illusion of entering another world.”

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All of the furniture that was in the library space at the Judith R. Hurl Education Center has been moved to the new space on the main floor of the library.

“It provides a great atmosphere for children, as well as students, to learn and read within,” said Ricciuti.

Even though the space has technically been open since February 2012, a grand re-opening is planned for March 2013 to be held in conjunction with a children's carnival themed around Dr. Seuss' birthday. This event will serve as the official opening of the Children's Library and involve a variety of faculty, staff, and student groups. Ricciuti said she is hopeful that members of Dr. Adkins' family will be able to attend and that this event will not only gain the interest of local children, but also the families throughout Brooke County. 

“I think Dr. Adkins would have liked what we’ve accomplished, and I’m confident her family will, too. We’re excited about what we can offer the community,” said Ricciuti.

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.