Kid Time Moves to the Carnegie Library
In April 2018, Medford City Council voted 7-to-1 in favor giving Kid Time Children's Museum (legal name: Kid Time Discovery Experience) a long term lease for the Carnegie Library Building at 413 W. Main St. in Medford (Kid Time plans to move into the building in stages during the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020). The Medford Carnegie Library has, for the most part, sat vacant for the past decade with city entities and a business or two using a portion of the space from time to time. The library, which was built in 1911 with a grant from Scottish philanthropist and businessman Andrew Carnegie, was expanded in the 1950's to become the building it is today. Sources vary but the square footage falls somewhere between 12-thousand and 16-thousand square feet.
Mr. Carnegie provided funding for the construction of more than 2,500 libraries around the globe, 1,689 of which were in the U.S. His mission was to provide education to everyone and, in fact, Carnegie libraries were the first to provide free access to a library education to children. Many of the Carnegie Libraries still standing today continue to operate as public libraries. Many others house community or art centers, historical or cultural museums, city offices, and even children's museums.
Kid Time Children's Museum has been interested in optimizing the Carnegie Library space and partnering with the City of Medford for about as long as the Carnegie building has been vacant. In that time our organization has grown into the second largest children's museum in the state of Oregon (behind only the Portland Children's Museum), hosting nearly 100,000 visitors a year. Those visitors are comprised of local member and non-member families and visitors from out of town. Kid Time also houses The Learning Loft Preschool, one of the highest rated preschools in the state. At the start of 2018 we have nearly 100 preschool students, a significant portion of whom attend through Preschool Promise (Oregon's answer to universal preschool), or on a Kid Time scholarship or financial assistance.
There are many misconceptions about children's museums and what they do, but all have one thing in common: interactive play spaces that help children explore the world around them, learn, and grow. With most brain development taking place before the age of 6, failure to engage in free play at an early age can seriously hamper critical thinking skills and social interaction, as well as the development of fine and gross motor skills, attention span, problem solving skills, and visual and cognitive abilities. These are the skills that preschools focus on, however, with preschool and daycare more expensive in Oregon than in most other states, many families can't afford that education. That gap leaves their child(ren) at a distinct disadvantage. If a child is struggling with brain development before even starting kindergarten the ramifications down the line can be significant (Jackson County reported a 2016 high school graduation rate of just 75%). Children's museums pick up the slack.
The importance of children's museums is well recognized. There are more than 340 of them around the world with dozens more in the planning phases. Many have been made the cornerstone of their community's downtown revitalization project, and many occupy historic buildings including Carnegie Libraries.
We were allowed to submit 5 letters of support as part of our proposal but we received many more from well-known community leaders. Please click the links below to read those letters. The first 5 were submitted as part of the proposal.