If there was a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it may have been that for many it reignited a love of being outdoors.
With the danger of spreading COVID-19 when people gathered inside, moving events outdoors was an attractive option. It provided fresh air and more space.
But at the Exeter Community Library, moving activities outside wasn’t an option. The facility simply didn’t have a dedicated outdoor space.
Now, it does.
On Saturday, the Exeter Township library welcomed community members to gather for a special event to christen its new amphitheater. Guests were treated to a host of performances and demonstrations designed to show off the versatility of the new outdoor space.
Mallory Hoffman, executive director of the library, said the idea of having an outdoor space at the library is one that had been bounced around for several years. The challenges of COVID showed that it was a necessity.
“Laura Kauffman, our children’s librarian, had always dreamed of having an outdoor space,” Hoffman said. “Last summer she came to me and said we have to do this outdoor space. It was totally her vision and determination that got this done.”
The library received a grant from Berks County using funds from the American Rescue Plan to help cover about a third of the cost of the project. Another grant from the Berks County Community Foundation helped to fund the lighting.
Construction of the amphitheater was finished in November, but because of the timing library officials decided to wait until spring to have a big event to officially open it.
“We just started planning for a big event to showcase all the different things that could be done with the space,” Hoffman said.
The amphitheater sits behind the library. A group of windows in the back of the building that form the shape of a house look out over a brick semicircle that serves as a stage.
And in front of that stage, concrete ledges that can be used as seating were cut into a hill.
The slate of events there Saturday included a visit by the Forgotten Friends Reptile Sanctuary, a demonstration by the Exeter Township Police Department K9 Unit, a performance by a magician and readings of spooky ghost stories.
Exeter Township resident Mary Beth Homm said she’s looking forward to visiting the new space often with her three children, who are already frequent patrons of the library.
“This is beautiful,” she said. “It gives the library a lot more opportunities to have bigger crowds and great programs.”
Source: Berkshire mont
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