When you step into the Traverse Area District Library and head toward the sound of kids voices, you’ll find a youth services area that’s bright with new paint, shelving, carpet and furniture. A “Tween Scene” hangout caters to young readers, and a new computer bar awaits their research projects and videos. All of it was funded by gifts large and small from community donors and supporters.

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But what about the tiniest of library guests? The board-book crowd had plenty of books, to be sure, but no place to call their own. “There was a space that we always had in mind as a play and learning area for toddler ages,” says outgoing Traverse Area District Library Director Gail Juett. “That’s what our next focus was. We got a bequest from William Engle and funding from our gala, plus so many individual gifts, we decided we had enough to embark on that project.”

The now-completed preschool interactive learning area is a haven for toddler-age kids.

There’s a play kitchen area, and tools for weighing and measuring, a lighthouse home to Goldilocks and the three bears, a boat built by MasterCraft Cabinets. And of course, there are books.

“There’s more than one way to learn,” Juett says. “You can learn through doing as well as learning through reading; this is one component of encouraging children to learn and then continuing that through reading. And it helps them in their development.”

Traffic in the youth services area has certainly picked up, all thanks to recent renovations and additions made possible by donors. “We appreciate gifts of all sizes,” says Juett. “I’d want donors to know that we seriously consider the best use for those gifts, the kind of project or materials that we feel would make the biggest impact for our community.”

“I see all the little kids in there now—it brings tears to my eyes,” Juett adds. “It’s so satisfying to see them enjoying it.”

More at tadl.org.