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Residents tell what they want from new library

Hot cup of coffee, Internet high on list of suggestions

Posted: July 3, 2008 12:13 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
You may be able to sip a hot cup o’ joe while you crack open a book at the new library planned for downtown Newhall.

City planners are working with architects to make the planned library feel a little more like your favorite bookstore and a little less like a stuffy library.

“A lot of people say nobody goes to the library anymore,” said Assistant City Engineer Chris Price. “We’re really looking to make it something people are going to want to go to.”

Residents said in a recent community survey they wanted to feel more comfortable at the library.

“I can spend hours at Barnes and Noble, but for some reason the environment at a public library is not as conducive,” one respondent wrote. “Maybe it’s the piped-in music, the layout, the comfortable seating. As a single parent on a budget it would be wonderful to feel as comfortable in a library as opposed to a book store.”

Price said this seems to be an overall trend in library building.

“The librarians are telling us they’re not stopping people from eating or drinking in the library anymore,” he said. “Our architect is very familiar with that.

“Most of the good quality library architects have taken lessons from the marketplace and from retail and realize it doesn’t cost more to make this really appealing.”

Price said a developer will likely bring in a coffee shop or cafe near the library and food and drinks would probably be allowed in the library. If a developer does not bring in a coffee shop nearby, the library may allow a vendor to sell coffee out front.

He said the library will likely have more community service amenities than the other libraries in town.

He said the planners and consultants are looking at providing a local history section that would incorporate elements of a museum.

The 1,500 written and online responses in the library needs assessment conducted from January through March also asked for quiet areas, children’s areas, a homework center and lots of computers.

“One hundred Internet stations would not be too many!” a survey respondent said.

The residents said the biggest reasons they tend to avoid libraries are because they use their own computers at home, they prefer to purchase rather than borrow books, and a lack of time.

The City Council recently selected the design firm to draw up conceptual plans for a 16,000 to 30,000 square-foot library on the block where Main Street, Lyons Avenue and Spruce Street meet. The improvements are all part of the city’s Newhall revitalization plans that will also bring landscaping and more commercial development to Main Street.

Price expects it will be a year to year and a half before they break ground on the new library. Construction would take another 12 to 14 months.

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