By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 19, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Since the advent of the Internet, libraries have struggled to remain relevant in the daily lives of avid readers, but the Center Library is doing what it can to get readers hooked on good old-fashioned books at an early age.
The Center Library hosted its grand reopening for its children's room and teen lounge areas Jan. 11 where nearly $100,000 went into renovating the spaces to provide a place for children and teens to learn and play, according to Joseph Podles, Fort Rucker Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.
"What we defend in the Army, amongst other things, is the future of this nation," he said during the opening ceremony. "Providing for the educational wellbeing of our children is an important part of protecting that future."
The new children's room features the library's Picture Book and Early Reader collection, and also houses areas that cater to creative learning and interaction between parents and their children. The renovated room also features an original mural with well-known fairy tale, folk tale and nursery rhyme characters.
Podles said the grant was made possible as part of a "Million Dollar Makeover" program from Installation Management Command and the Army Library Program, of which the Center Library was one of only two libraries in the Atlantic Region to receive a grant.
Alicia Caverson, military spouse, brought her children out to the grand opening because she said she hopes to foster a love of reading in her children, so that they might enjoy it as much as she does.
"I think this is a great area I can bring my children to show them how great it is to read," she said. "I think books are so important for children's development and I'm glad that the library here is doing what they can to keep kids interested.
"This is also a great way to keep parents involved in their kids' lives when it comes to paying attention to the type of content they are absorbing," she continued. "It's great to be able to come out here and pick out a book with my child and just even spend some time up here reading with her. I just think this whole project was money well spent."
The money spent and work put into the project is all part of what DFMWR does to better the lives of Soldiers and families in the military, said Podles.
"MWR is a really tough job, but it's worth it because of days like this where we can do something new and exciting, which offers a great service to the community," said the DFMWR director. "Stuff like this doesn't just happen.
"I'd like to thank the Center Library staff members, the Directorate of Public Works, and the Army Library Program for making this transformation possible. Hard work and dedication bring great results, and this is a perfect example," he said. "From the words of Laura Bush, our former first lady, 'Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers, and the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.'"