Remodeled library, with new quiet room, is unveiled


The Alachua County Library District headquarters' newly renovated adults floor Thursday, September 27, 2012.

Photo by Doug Finger/ Staff Photographer
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:02 p.m.

The Downtown Headquarters Library houses more than just books. It provides a community haven, a meeting space and a resource center — among many other titles.

On Thursday, the Alachua County Library District unveiled at the Headquarters Library a remodeled third floor and the addition of a quiet reading room – for the reading that must be done in silence.

Libraries have changed from traditionally quiet areas to areas buzzing with activity. Joanna Auth, a frequent user of the downtown library, said librarians are no longer required to patrol for talkers, shushing the moment a voice rises above the others.

"The main goal might not be to sit and read quietly," she said. "But there are still certain kinds of reading that has to be done quietly. I think it's great that they give space for both."

Nickie Kortus, the marketing and public relations manager for the library district, said the Millhopper Library Branch already has a quiet reading room that is very popular with the library patrons.

The renovations at the downtown facility cost $75,000, which was donated by the Alachua County Friends of the Library in addition to its annual contribution of $170,000.

The Friends of the Library receives funding from its bi-annual book sales. The fall sale will be held from Oct. 27-31.

The remodel was Phase 2 of a 3-phase project, and it included the addition of new carpet, new paint, new furniture and a rearrangement of the computers.

Library staff swapped the fiction section with the non-fiction books to bring the more popular fiction section closer to the front of the library.

All the computers have been placed in one prominent area, close to the printers and copiers. More study spaces dot the open third-floor area, providing wireless access at all the stations.

"This renovation has made us a 21st-century library," said Shaney T. Livingston, library director for Alachua County.

The new reading room features a collection of chairs overlooking the courtyard outside inside a glass-enclosed space. Situated against the wall, a small bronze statue of a girl sits atop a memorial bench commemorating the relationship between the library, the Friends of the Library and the community members who donate to the organization.

Friends of the Library purchased the bench using memorial gifts, Kortus said, and it intends to hang a plaque listing the names of those who contributed.

"Friends of the Library formed in 1954. Why? Because we needed a new library. There were holes in the floor, and things were falling down," said Beverly Bartlett, treasurer for Friends of the Library. "The same motivation drives us today to continue to improve our library."

The library remained open during the entire remodeling process. Since the opening of the Headquarters Library in 1991 at its current location, it has not gone through any major renovations, Kortus said.

The third phase will be implemented later in the fall with a revamping of the children's area.

"What this library does, it enriches you," Auth said. "Just looking at it makes you feel that this community values learning."

Auth said she believes the renovations have streamlined the process that allows people to access the resources available.

"This is my library," Auth said. "I feel a lot of ownership toward it."

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