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BOOKED SOLID; PALMDALE CELEBRATES LIBRARY JUST FOR CHILDREN.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Daily News Staff Writer

Hundreds of children and their parents packed Palmdale's new Youth Library as it opened its doors Saturday for the first time.

Youngsters sat in child-sized chairs, reading books they pulled from the 5-1/2-foot-tall shelves, punched keys on computers to play math and reading games, looked at racks of children's videotapes or stood in lines seven deep to register for library cards.

``It's very good - beautiful,'' said Palmdale mother Feddie Hayward - a semiweekly library visitor - as her 5-year-old son Christopher paged through a picture book. ``He loves to read.''

``It's lovely,'' said Linda Sorce, a recent Palmdale transplant from Long Beach who was obtaining library cards for her children ages 11, 9 and 7.

More than 300 people attended the Palmdale Youth Library's dedication ceremony, which included remarks by Bessie Condos Tichaeuer, children and youth consultant for the state library system, who described it as the only public library in California built exclusively for children.

``Children's services are the foundation on which library services are built,'' she said.

Covering 10,000 square feet - almost as much as the 21-year-old Palmdale library - the $2.9 million Youth Library is large enough for 50,000 books.

It includes a room for youngsters to do homework, a lab with 22 personal computers, a read-aloud area for preschoolers, and a 1,500-square-foot meeting area.

City officials say the library was designed to fit children better than a conventional facility.

The bookshelves are no taller than 5-1/2 feet so shorter patrons can reach the top shelves. Chairs and tables are sized for children. The interior walls are painted green, ivory, yellow and blue, decorated with framed posters of King Arthur, Hiawatha, Rapunzel and other classic figures.

The youth library was built at 38510 Sierra Highway - near the Hammack Activity Center - to help relieve crowding at the cramped main library a block away.

City officials began debating two years ago whether and how to expand the city library, built in 1977 when the city's population was less than 12,000. The city now has more than 114,000 residents.

Options considered included opening branch libraries on Palmdale's east and west sides, enlarging the existing library or building a new and larger library. All were too expensive or otherwise impractical, city officials said.

Enlarging the existing building would be costly because it would require strengthening it to meet construction standards enacted after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, officials said, and it would disrupt library service for months.

The existing library will be refurbished, with adult material expanded into where children's books had been. The preschool reading room will be used to house books, photos, maps and other documents on Palmdale and Antelope Valley history, officials said.

``We're still crowded. We still need additional space. But I think this is a fantastic step in the right direction,'' said Barbara Krause, president of the Board of Library Trustees.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1--Color) Parents and children explore the computer laboratory at Palmdale's new Youth Library during grand opening ceremonies Saturday.

(2--Color) Many visitors to the new facility signed up for library cards.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 9, 1998
Words:529
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