Children to raise funds for Witte Hall through Beyond Books Kids’ Marketplace

A conceptual drawing for the exterior of the proposed Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall project.
(Courtesy of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation)
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Dozens of young vendors will be selling items this weekend to raise funds for Witte Hall, the lecture hall now under construction next to the Newport Beach Central Public Library.

The Beyond Books Kids’ Marketplace will be set up between the library’s Friends Room and Bamboo Courtyard from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The youngsters will be on site with their families selling goods they’ve made by hand, including jewelry, slime kits and a host of other offerings.

Each child will oversee a 3-foot-long display table where they’ll sell their items in exchange for tickets that will be sold to shoppers for $1 each.


All booths — including not only hand-crafted items but baked goods and carnival games — will be run by young Newport Beach families, according to organizers with Beyond Books, a private fundraising campaign affiliated with the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation.

Erin Grody Kingsley, who grew up in Newport Beach, told the Daily Pilot this week she has fond memories of when the Newport Beach Central Library first opened and the many events that were organized especially for children.

She learned while speaking with her friends who have children in preschool and elementary school that parents are looking for opportunities to teach their kids about community activism and entrepreneurship.

The Beyond Books steering committee, she said, wanted to increase awareness of Witte Hall among young families who might not have previously been aware of the project that’s been more than 10 years in the making.

With those goals in mind, the idea for the Beyond Books Kids’ Marketplace was born. All proceeds from Sunday’s marketplace will go toward the Beyond Books campaign for Witte Hall.

The city’s main branch is expected to reopen in 2026 after the completion of major renovation and restoration projects meant to modernize the library’s services.

June 20, 2024

“It was the idea that we could inspire creativity, whether it was through making goods or by selling purchased goods, to empower [the kids] to think, ‘What would my friends like? What would sell?’” Grody Kingsley said, adding that her own son has about 60 slime kits and baggies of charms he will be selling at the event himself Sunday.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for them to take ownership and to see what that work can do for the community,” she said. “[The kids] are intrigued by seeing a large construction site that we pass by frequently when we go to the library.”

She noted that observing the ongoing work at Witte Hall and explaining the reasons behind it affords parents a good opportunity to teach the youngsters how they can be involved in helping the project along.

On Thursday, Jill Johnson-Tucker, chair of the lecture hall design committee and the Beyond Books campaign, confirmed the group has so far raised more than $9 million toward its goal of $12 million to pay its share of the $23.4-million lecture hall project. The city of Newport Beach will pay the remainder. Construction began earlier this year, and Witte Hall is expected to be completed in 2026.

Johnson-Tucker said it was initially thought the new building would simply serve as a lecture hall, but “it’s grown to be so much bigger now in potential. It’s now a civic auditorium that the city’s going to make available to all kinds of performance groups, business seminars — it’ll be a very popular location for all sorts of things we can’t currently house in the city. It’ll be a real asset to the community.”

Hawk on Hand, which gives falconry exhibitions, will offer two shows Sunday to entertain visitors. A vendor will be on site to serve ice cream and frozen bananas.

The Newport Beach Central Library is located at 1000 Avocado Ave.