CROWN POINT | Choosing just the right library book got easier this week for children and their moms staying at the St. Jude House shelter.
An in-house library opened in space four times larger than its former home, a storage room.
Volunteer librarian Pene Castor worked for weeks to catalog books and arrange displays in the new library's much larger converted office space, ahead of opening day Tuesday.
Books about princesses and heroes are favorites with younger kids, and the Harry Potter series is still beloved by older children, but there are plenty of other books to pick from for both children and adults, Castor said.
St. Jude Family Violence Shelter and Prevention Center houses up to 400 people a year, about half of them children.
Clients often arrive feeling overwhelmed by the situation they're in, Executive Director Mary Govert said.
The library can be a place of solace and normalcy.
Growing up, Govert made trips to the library with her mother.
"It's a life skill I learned from her," Govert said. "When clients are at St. Jude house, we want to make sure they have access to life skills."
Castor, a retired elementary school librarian and current volunteer at the shelter, makes sure the book displays have eye appeal.
"The children love it," said Joy Heminger, St. Jude House director of community awareness.
"A lot of the children haven't had the opportunity or luxury of having books," Heminger said. "That probably hasn't been a priority. Their families are focused on surviving their situation."
Books arrive at the shelter donated by people in the community. Some of the books go home with departing moms and their children, a gift from the shelter.
"One thing we want to do is create the desire for them to want to read, to get used to making that routine," Heminger said. "We want them to see that books can open a whole new world for them."