Donors Throw Down $60,000 for Library\'s Early Learning Space

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COLUMBIA - Parents and children visiting the Columbia Public Library Thursday got a sneak preview of a new $60,000 early childhood learning installment.

Associate Director Elinor Barrett said two anonymous donors from the Columbia area contributed the money for the project, which has been in the works for nearly a year.

"It was like a dream come true in that they approached us," Barrett said. "Just out of the goodness of their heart and their community spirit they wanted to give something that everybody could enjoy."

Two team members from the library firm The Burgeon Group started installing the activity area this Tuesday, which features interactive panels that let kids practice fine motor skills, letter recognition and creative play.

Children and youth services manager Sarah Howard said it gives parents more opportunities to promote their child's interest in reading.

"Libraries have always done story times," Howard said. "But it is true that these days the entire community is getting involved in the early learning process because we know how important it is for kids to get a good base before they start school ready to learn."

The library is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday for the area, where it will reveal the identities of the two anonymous donors.

Barrett said she is excited the community will be able to recognize the two community members who gave the gift.

"It just came out of left field," Barrett said. "It's one of those dreams that everybody has, just someone walking up and giving you a check to do something wonderful for the community."