If you have spent any time downtown recently, you may have noticed that the Central Library now adorns vibrant blue accents on the exterior of the building. This change is only a small portion of the efforts made in the revitalization of the library.
The changes become obvious upon entering the main entrance. While some things remain the same, like the golden mosaic statue in the lower foyer, there are other distinct changes like the transition from standard white walls to a vibrant purple. Even this small change brings so much more life to the library.
During their closure for renovations from February 1 to May 11, 2015 the library made practical changes like updating their air conditioning, as well as functional changes like reconfiguring the shelves on the main floor. In order to make for a more open concept, the library reconfigured the shelves and made wider aisles to make them more accessible for everyone. While this process did require the library to condense their expansive collection, all of the items they parted with were donated to the Salvation Army, Goodwill and the prison system.
To bring more technological updates to the facility, the library now offers a self-checkout machine to cater to those who are looking for a faster option when borrowing items. Additionally, librarians now circulate the floor with iPads to assist visitors in looking up available items, or anything else they may need.
One part of the renovation that the library staff is most excited about is the addition of a teen area upstairs. The library has always carried novels for teens, but until now, they did not have a teen-friendly area where they could sit and enjoy books at the library. This area also has a life-size chess board to engage visitors of all ages. If people are not familiar with the game, they can come in on select dates to learn the game from international chess expert, Jim Skeels. The next date is July, 11th at 2 p.m., followed by July 25th at the same time.
Another engaging feature following the renovation is the Creative Lab, a mixed-use media room that which will give teens access to equipment they may not have at home. This space is not quite finished, but is projected to be completed once the staff determines what items will make the space most attractive and useful to teens.
Teens are not the only community members who will benefit from the renovations. Individuals who are 55 and older may attend art classes in all different areas of the arts hosted by the library. These classes will begin in the fall of 2015 and continue through next spring. Two classes that the library is working to set up are drawing and still-life painting.
The business community can also benefit. All nonprofit organizations are able to reserve the renovated auditorium at the library as well as one of the various conference rooms to conduct meetings in. The spaces are able to these organizations free of charge.
To further community engagement, the library will begin hosting events such as dancing in the auditorium, short-film festivals created from smartphones, and “Are You Smarter Than a Librarian” trivia. These types of events will transform the library into more than it ever has been; allowing it to be a community space that fosters engagement, creativity, and interaction.
So brush the dust off that old library card (or maybe sign up for one), see what’s changed, and explore all the new possibilities available at the Central Library!
Continue to follow me this summer through my many adventures in downtown Bradenton!