Natural light from windows and skylights pours into the El Dorado County Library in Cameron Park Library at 2500 Country Club Drive.
Colorful banners by artist Margaret Welty draw the eye upward while artwork on the walls provides another pop of color and texture. Both Artistic additions soften the acoustics of the library, according to Cameron Park Branch Manager Nancy Owen-Hazard.
Leading a tour of the library Owen-Hazard pointed out the bright and colorful teen section right up front. It’s like a mini-bistro with high chairs and a colorful rug on the floor.
“It used to be a dark corner in the back of the library and no one could ever find it,” said Owen-Hazard, the children’s librarian before becoming branch manager of the library two years ago.”I moved it up to the front and we recently added some things to make it more welcoming and engage the teens. They are checking out four to five times more books than when the library first opened.”
Next to the teen section a “Quiet Room” built by a library patron ensures that librarians don’t need to shush young readers. The library also features a laptop center with plenty of power strips to plug into — a quiet area to study, research and write.
There is an easy flow from the main part of the library into the children’s library. Of course, there are many books but, in this library, there are also toys — sturdy wooden toys, puzzles, manipulatives, a puppet theater and even a mini-kitchen encircle a colorful rug on the floor.
Shelves of books for parents flank the play area because this library is all about families and developing skills in children, Owne-Hazard said. An infant lapsit storytime gets underway in the community room with storyteller Christina Roseli greeting each one of the babies with song and a puppet. Finger plays, songs, rhythm and movement help develop pre-literacy skills.
“Play is learning,” said Owen-Hazard. “It’s never too early to read to your child.”
Providing a safe environment for new parents to learn about their child’s developmental needs is one of her goals and the library has partnered with local resources to create very successful parent/child workshops.
“We bring in early childhood specialists, baby yoga, pediatric dentists and developmental screening because there’s more to a baby than height and weight,” said Owen-Hazard.”We’re creating an amazing generation of kids here in Cameron Park.”
Young readers also have an opportunity to read to service dogs every Tuesday in the “Paws for Reading” program.
“The kids love it; the dogs love it,” said Owen-Hazard, “and there’s always a new puppy on board.”
Tucked into a residential neighborhood, in a community without a downtown or even an uptown, the library and its next-door neighbor, the Cameron Park Community Center, is the community hub.
“The CSD is a good neighbor,” said Owen-Hazard. “They help to draw people here and when our programs get a big response, we’ve had to use the auditorium.”
All about the patrons
After 13 years at the Cameron Park Library, Circulation Supervisor Janice Klein knows most of the patrons, the local schools’ principals and the teachers.
“This library is very family-oriented. Patrons think of us as family — we’ve watched their kids grow up. They send us postcards when they travel and bring us veggies from their gardens,” she explained.
Early Childhood Literacy Specialist Janis Herbert has been with the library for three years and helps Owen-Hazard run the children’s library.
“This is a welcoming, bright, loving library,” said Herbert who has written five children’s interactive history books, all of which are checked out.
Another of the library’s assets is Sue Spring-Wenzel, library assistant, who has been helping people find great books at the Cameron Park library for 12 years.
“We never want anyone to leave empty-handed,” said Spring-Wenzel. “I can find something for any patron. This is a happy place to work — one of my favorite sounds is the sound of children playing.”
“Noise is a joyful thing,”said Owen-Hazard. “If children are engaged they aren’t loud, they’re busy.”