Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Library Review

Well, it's nice and cold for Spring Break '07, so it's a good time for me to develop my opinions about the new library space. The main judgment, and it's one that I seem to share with lots of folks, is that it's pretty great. I've overheard other people say, and I've thought it myself, that it will "be my new hangout." It is space this town can be proud of--it feels ambitious and progressive and democratic and you can sense these feelings in the people, patrons, you pass in the great hall, above.

It's definitely attracting more business. I'd be curious to hear numbers on that. I know that the checkout desk now has anywhere from 3-4 people working it now where it used to have only two, and the lines always seem longer. When I'm there, it always seems like at least two checkout clerks are busy with patrons helping them something complicated like appealing their immigration status or changing the name on their passport. Probably just seems that way.

But what do I think of the details of this new space is the question I've been asking myself lately. I think I do like the big hall. The light is great, and the feeling that you're someplace important is nice. One major disappointment is the wall of quotes you see on the left side above. They put up a canvas 50 yards long or so and I'm all excited about the possibilities and all we get is this sort of pedantic, officious mess of words. The quotations are nice, but it feels like a lecture. A huge opportunity for public art that could have challenged and identified us wasted. An Eric Tarr or e4 collective work would have been a knockout. Fortunately, the new library gallery space and theater are helping to make up fo that letdown. But still. Grade: B This small reading room is one of my favorite places to hunker down. I can sit along the windows at the far end there and read and it's a great place to see people you know as they walk by. My only real problem with this space is that it serves as an echo chamber for all of the noise generated in the "great hall." Somehow, it feels louder than when you're in the hall itself. Every kid that gets smacked by its teenage parent and then cries gets magnified in there. It's also a little cold by those windows in the winter. Still, it's one of the first places I go to read. It feels secluded except when the latch key kids come there to hang out and flirt after school. They're pretty obnoxious. Grade: B-

The other decent place to read is the "silent reading room," which is glassed off from the rest of the library and contains about thirty leather wingback (is that the word?) chairs scattered randomly. It is quiet in there, but it's too quiet for me, almost. I want to feel like I'm in something public when I go out to read, and this does not give me that. All the chairs are a little absurd, too; they look like a chess board full of kings, and their random organization makes it look they are sadly roaming the small room in search of a fireplace to settle in front of. I feel bad for them, and avoid them, rarely using this room. Grade: B-
And here, Business & Technology, is the best place to set up the laptop. It's a corner that almost always has an open table, lots of outlets built into the tables, and the wi-fi is always fast. What I love most is the light here--great corner windows that let you feel like you're sitting at the bow of a great ship or something. Not too many kids running around here, either, which is nice. I think the name of the department scares them off or something. Grade: A.

Children's Services is a pretty sweet set up. The kids all love it, and this room feels like it got the most attention during the planning stage. I think it feels a little cramped in the stacks, though. A kids' room should feel more open. There are actually places in there that feel like the dead end of a maze. Grade: A-

Okay, so my overall grade is still an A. I'm a holistic grader. I've yet to see the Genealogy dept. because I'm afraid that it will mean I'm old if I go in there. I am curious, though. I also didn't say anything about the bizarre wall separating the Audio Visual dept. from the Art books room. It makes no sense to me. And I've left out the new coffee shop/book shop and the periodicals area. The jury is still out on that, I guess.

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Rachel said...

The Business and Technology place is where I got my first book on my first visit there. I really didn't stay long though, so maybe the name is intimidating.

Oden, Miles said...

There's a new library in Fort Wayne?

Mr. Hill said...

Aw, I saw you walking not two blocks from it a couple days ago, so I know you're joshin'.

George brought a couple friends into town and put together a good poetry reading for to-nite at the Cinema Center. You should go.

MBW said...

Just a note to say hi. Have you had coffee or anything at the new library cafe?

Mr. Hill said...

Hi, how're things? Yeah, I've had a sandwich and a coffee--it's an okay space, I guess. It feels a little sterile to me, like the lighting is wrong or something. It might be nice when you can sit outside, though.

MBW said...

Things are good - how about you?
Food decent there?