Library public's 'living room'—October 22, 2010
Libraries are not just warehouses of books. We are growing, living organizations that support reading, lifelong learning and each individual’s right to explore ideas and be an informed citizen. If you’ve ever been within earshot of me you’ve probably heard my various ramblings on the importance of a public library in a community. We build readers. We excite young minds and help them explore this curious world. We also create opportunities for lifelong learning and entertainment for all ages. A modern library is much more than just books to its community. It’s a cornerstone of learning, exploration and ideas.
Why then do we need a renovated library facility, if the emphasis is not about shelving space for books? Hastings needs a modern library so its citizens can continue to access technology, learning and entertainment in a welcoming facility. The proposed renovation plan is a complete remodel of the existing 1964 building. While structurally sound and ideally located downtown, the building was never designed for today’s computers and technology or the average 400 people visiting the library every day.
The renovation plan includes opening the lower level to be a new, much larger children’s room. The design includes bringing in natural lighting, kid-friendly shelving and computers, and creating a storytime room for children. No more storytimes in boring meeting rooms. Instead, imagine a fun, playful storytime in a brightly-colored room with itty bitty cushions or chairs. Imagine an immediate connection to the picture books and puppets waiting to be explored.
Another significant element in the design is moving the entrance to the southwest corner and connecting our entrance to downtown and the city parking lot. A zero-grade entrance means no more slippery steps and improved accessibility for all. Expanded teen space, meeting rooms and large print areas means there is truly something for everyone in this library.
The overall look and feel of the renovation is open and accessible. A grand staircase in the center of the building connects all three levels and with very few internal walls, the building becomes an inviting place for people to gather, browse or study. The addition of windows on the second level increases our use of natural light, as well as allows people to see in and out, further connecting their experience at the library with the surrounding community.
The Library Board and I are certain that this project is the right direction for our library and for our community. We want the library to be the” community’s living room,” where everyone has access to information and ideas, and a place to study or a place to gather. We want this to be a community goal and a source of community pride.
If you have questions about the library project, please visit our display at the library or call us at 402-461-2346. You may also visit www.hastings.lib.ne.us for more information.