A vibrant, lively space at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library’s main downtown site opens today with a world of wonder for children to explore.
The Creativity Lab: The Susan M. Savage Family Place is located in the children’s library inside the Main Library on Michigan Street. It features colorful, interactive panels, a full kitchen with video screen displays, and room for 80 children to sit at tables while they work on crafts, science projects, and other activities.
Clyde Scoles, left, executive director of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, talks with Bob and Sue Savage outside the Creativity Lab: The Susan M. Savage Family Place at the Main Library.
The 2,300-square-foot lab is designed to delight and educate. Librarians plan to hold daily activities in the new space, starting with a grand opening at 3 p.m. today and an event for preschoolers from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Robert and Susan Savage donated $300,000 to help build the lab as part of an $870,000 project to modernize the children’s library. The rest of the money came from the library’s building and repair fund. Mr. Savage is the chairman emeritus of the financial services firm Savage and Associates.
Mrs. Savage has long been interested in children’s literacy, has volunteered for years as a librarian at local schools, and is a member of the library’s board of trustees.
The Savage family helped develop ideas that were incorporated into the lab’s design, and the couple hopes the creative space will inspire young children.
“We can’t do too much for them to enhance their skills and make them ready to learn and excited about learning,” Mrs. Savage said.
Wheels, dials, and displays adorn one long wall of the lab. Swappable gadgets are placed at a kid-friendly height and each one offers its own surprise. Some light up or spin, others feature unique textures or introduce children to wordplay and rhymes, tools, and phases of the moon. One display showcases pressed flowers, and another features coins the Savages collected during trips they’ve taken abroad.
“You’ll see new things each time because there’s so much happening,” said Nancy Eames, the library’s youth services coordinator.
Sue Savage takes a turn on an interactive panel during a tour of the Creativity Lab at the Main Library downtown.
A growth chart measures children’s height both in inches and in comparison to a stack of books. Some of the Savage family’s favorite titles, from The Cat in the Hat to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, are lined up against the long ruler. Those who can stretch to 72 inches, or 6 feet tall, will reach the tip-top of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Inside the enclosed space, lime-green cabinets line the walls and tables and chairs are ready for hands-on activities with iPads, microscopes, and arts and crafts.
A roomy kitchen in one corner includes a refrigerator, sink, stove, oven, and plenty of counter space.
The library plans to host healthy eating classes, and video screens let participants get a close-up look at how cooks prepare food.
The lab enhances the library’s traditional mission of loaning books and other materials. Now, libraries also are places where patrons create content.
“Public libraries are in very much of a transformative, changing environment right now, and what this area, I think, does is that it drives learning and really provides for individual opportunity,” said director Clyde Scoles.
The Savages pointed out there are numerous child-care providers in and near downtown, and the couple hopes many will visit the new lab.
The space offers tools and educational resources to children who don’t have such opportunities and advantages at home.
“Kids are absolutely going to go, ‘Wow,’ ” Mr. Savage said. “If you start them in a good mood the probability of slipping some knowledge in gets better.”