GULFPORT — After nearly a year of construction, the Reading Garden at the Gulfport Public Library officially opens Thursday at 7 p.m. with a ribbon cutting and a performance by Betty Jean Steinshouer, nationally known Chautauqua actor.
The garden's opening is a dream come true for the Circle of Friends, the volunteer group that works with the library to support literacy and learning in the community.
"We wanted a beautiful, tranquil place where people can meditate, relax, read, listen to the birds and appreciate the surroundings," said Phyllis Plotnick, president of the circle's board of directors. "It's a space that offers a welcoming oasis and brings new energy to the library."
Plotnick said the garden will be the site of many events throughout the year, from musical programs to children's activities.
Library director David Mather views the outdoor addition as both a gift to the city and a symbol of the library's renewal.
"It's one way of letting the community know that we're looking toward the future," he said. "The Reading Garden means we're no longer just a stuffy old library."
Thursday's event takes place in the Francis Purdy Community Room of the Gulfport Public Library, 5501 28th Ave. S, and is free. Because space is limited, those interested in attending should call (727) 893-1073. A reception begins at 6:30.
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