When the Benson Neighborhood Association, opens a new window (BNA) considered projects worthy of funding from the 2019 Mayor's Neighborhood Grant program, their local library came right to mind. The group chose to focus their efforts on supporting OPL's Benson Branch, specifically the children's area, and submitted a proposal for $5,000 to fund new family and kid-friendly seating.
"We're really proud of the library and the momentum they have going with the branch rearrange and new carpeting," said Mark Brannen, BNA secretary. "It's one of the best assets in the neighborhood and a gathering place for all people year-round."
Replacing the children's area furniture, which is over 20 years old, was one of the updates that staff had hoped to tackle this year, said Karen Pietsch, Benson Branch manager. The BNA's grant, one of 29 applications selected for funding this year by Mayor Jean Stothert, expedited the project's timeline. The funding will also allow for the purchase of fun furniture for kids, like a Demco® ColorScape® Playpod Cube, that the branch would not have had funding to buy.
"Small changes like new furniture have a big impact on how our facility is used," said Pietsch. "The more fun and comfortable we can make the area, the more families will linger here."
Brannen, a father of two, and his family use the branch weekly and look forward to seeing the current single-person seating replaced with more family-friendly seating like love seats. "We can't wait to use the new furniture to read books as a family when we visit," said Brannen.
The new furniture adds to a growing list of improvements funded by BNA at Benson Branch. Previous projects include a charging station for devices and cell phones, and money to support the branch's collection. "It's really great to know that the neighborhood association thinks of us and values the library so highly," said Pietsch.