When it was constructed in the 1970s, the Southampton Free Library, located at 947 Street Road, was adorned with pink and avocado-green walls, and other decor that was popular of that decade.
Over the years, the library has evolved into a community hub for children’s programming, cooking events, and individuals seeking a serene atmosphere to read and work. However, the space itself remained stuck in the 70s.
Several years ago, library staff decided a modernization was not only wanted, it was needed. In 2013, it launched the Access the World capital campaign, the funds of which were used to completely renovate a number of areas, including the community room, kitchen and children’s section.
According to library director Kimberly Ingram, the revamp was made possible thanks to donations from individuals and local businesses, as well as a Keystone Grant of $200,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which was supported by Rep. Frank Farry.
The total cost was $575,000, with the project taking approximately 10 months to complete.
“A lot of hard work went into this renovation and we are extremely proud of our new space,” Ingram said. “We are grateful to everyone who donated to our campaign to make this renovation possible. We hope everyone will stop by and celebrate the Southampton Free Library.”
The makeover was officially unveiled to the public on Thursday, May 16, when the library hosted an open house from 6 to 8 p.m.
Upon walking through the front doors, patrons were instantly greeted by a cozy display of all-new furniture, including several couches, chairs and desks. All of the furniture is on wheels, which makes for easy reorganization for study groups.
Since many residents regularly set up shop for hours with their personal laptops, a plethora of power outlets were installed at each seating area, allowing the convenience of “plugging in” wherever they choose to sit. There is always access to complimentary Wi-Fi.
Further into the library sits the newly-designed children’s area, which features colorful tables and chairs, all engraved with animal shapes.
The bathrooms on the first floor were also fixed up, now boasting bright white walls (as opposed to the former avocado-green), automatic lights and hand dryers.
Downstairs sits the highlight of the renovation project – the community room. Visitors to the open house were able to take in the modern demonstration kitchen, which is used for monthly “What’s Cooking at the Library” events, a large screen and projector used for movie nights, which often attract nearly 100 people, and the dozens of chairs aligned on the fresh wooden floor.
Here, programming such as Sensory Coloring, Cat Yoga with the Women’s Animal Center, storytime and reading to adoptable animals takes place.
With this enhanced space, the library’s mission is to offer even more engaging programming to Lower Bucks County than it did in 2018. Ultimately, it seeks to be a community educational center that is more than just books. Last year, it was open to the public for 312 days, served 94,916 visitors, hosted 544 programs (which were attended by 12,749 people), and introduced a slew of new offerings such as escape rooms, story strolls and cooking demonstrations.
At the end of the open house, guests were invited to sign up for a library card, take in the updated collection of board games, get their hands on a museum pass, and enjoy refreshments donated by Catering by Jessica Lee. ••
For information on the Southampton Free Library, visit SouthamptonFreeLibrary.org or call 215-322-1415.