CORCORAN — The Corcoran branch of the Kings County Library will soon be a hub for early literacy education.

The library unveiled its new Family Place Library and mural at a gathering Monday.

Natalie Rencher, director for the Kings County Library, said the project is the second of its kind in the county. The Hanford branch debuted its own mural and Family Place Library in April 2012.

“One of the things that we have tried to do over the last few years is to incorporate more than just books into our facilities,” Rencher said. “And one of the philosophies that we have adopted is the Family Place Library.”

Jennifer Riordan, Kings County youth services librarian, said that the latest Family Place Library makes Corcoran part of a network of libraries that believe in early literacy education.

Besides the colorful mural, the Family Place Library provides tools for early learning, including toys, puzzles, workbooks and two early learning computer stations. The touch screen computers are loaded with a host of games and educational programs.

“What we’re slowly hoping to do, we’re transforming each of our libraries in the system to become early learning centers and Family Place libraries,” Riordan said.

The mural was painted by Visalia artist Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, who also painted the mural at the Hanford branch. The newest work depicts children running through a green park setting, library cards in hand. Other children can be seen sitting in the grass reading books.

“I think they came up with a great concept,” Mitchell-Veyna said. “We discussed many different things and came up with a park-like theme for this library.”

Mitchell-Veyna, who is known for her mural work in Exeter, is preparing to paint a third mural for the library branch in Kettleman City. 

Rencher said that mural will likely be completed next spring. The theme will incorporate “time and space travel” because of the high level of traffic that passes through Kettleman City.

“We’re trying to fit the themes with the actual communities,” Rencher said.

Mitchell-Veyna uses real-life children as subjects for her murals. One of the children depicted in the Corcoran mural, 13-year-old Nicholas Akins of Visalia, attended the unveiling.

Akins said his mother’s friend is an acquaintance of Mitchell-Veyna, who recommended him for the mural.

“It’s kind of cool to have my picture painted on a mural,” Nicholas said.

While the Hanford mural was paid for through an anonymous donation, the Corcoran and Kettleman City murals will be paid for with a donation from the Friends of the Kings County Library.

Wilma Humason, president of the support group, said it raises money through its annual book sales to pay for projects like the new mural. The group has also begun selling books on Amazon.com, which yields more than the usual $1 asking price at the book sales.

Friends of the Library member Sue Hensel said she had the privilege of going to Mitchell-Veyna’s home while she was still painting the mural. She said she was pleased with the end result.

“It’s beautiful,” Hensel said. 

Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle said he and his son both have library cards and make good use them.

“Places like this aren’t places we should take for granted,” Valle said.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 and meiman@HanfordSentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeE_HS. 

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