Wild things: Central Ridge Library renovating youth area with murals, teen upgrades

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By Nancy Kennedy

BEVERLY HILLS — Things are getting a little wild at the library. 

The Friends of the Central Ridge Library in Beverly Hills have begun work on their longtime goal of updating the youth area.

The theme: Wild Things.

“What they’re trying to do is create an environment that’s fun and creative for kids to come and read and spark their imagination,” said Eric Head, director of library services for the Citrus County Library System.

Head added that very little has been done to the youth area since the library opened in 1995.

Funds for the project come from the Friends of the Citrus County Library System semi-annual book sale.

April McLaughlin, Central Ridge Friends president, explained the proceeds from the book sales are divided among the Central Ridge, Coastal Region and Lakes Region libraries’ Friends groups to use as they wish.

The Central Ridge group has been saving its money for 10 years.

“All along we wanted to do something for the youth area,” she said.

“There’s always a need in Citrus County and in Beverly Hills for the youth to have something to do.”

When finished, including a future teen-centered upgrade, the total cost of the project will be about $20,000.

Right now, it’s still a work in progress. Local artist Sharon Harris is painting murals on the walls and huge wooden cutouts of trees, along with native Florida wildlife, thus the theme “wild things.”

McLaughlin said besides using a local artist, they’ve used local interior designer Smart Interiors and local construction company Daly & Zilch.

Some of the upgrades include a reading area with kid-friendly furniture and two early literacy stations — touch screen computers with preschool-finger-friendly keyboards and features.

“This lifts the morale of everyone — library employees and patrons,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been a long time coming and many people have dedicated their time and money. There are many more things we’d like to do, and as people continue to donate and come to the book sales, we will.”

Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy can be reached at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com or 352-564-2927.