Red Phone: Library more than just books

“Wow, I drove by the new library yesterday? Is that going to accommodate all of Santa Clara County. Or are they planning to make it into apartments like the ones in downtown that have not been rented. Big police department. Big library. And don’t tell me we are going to have a big post office when that is rebuilt. Oh man, our city taxes at work.”

Red Phone: Dear Bigger Is Not Better, The new library does not currently have any plans to add residential quarters in the library. Although a few librarians may be so tired they won’t be able to leave after organizing and cataloging all the material.
Anyone who has been in the interim library on Monterey Road knows how crowded it can be. It is quite noisy especially in the afternoons after school as students work on assignments or homework. There are people talking on phones, babies crying and library staff trying to assist patrons. Everything is crammed into 9,000 square feet, 3,000 less than the old building. Currently about 1,000 to 1,200 people visit the library each day, said Librarian Lani Yoshimura, but that number could reach as high as 1,800 during really hot or really cold weather when people don’t have anything else to do.
While staff members are happy to have a place to call their temporary home, they are counting down the days before they can  move into the facility that will allow them to offer more services.
“We’re excited and overwhelmed,” Yoshimura said. “We have such tight conditions now. There are so many things that are overlapping. I am always tripping or running into shelves if I am focused on something else. We receive a lot of complaints about the noise.” 
While lending out books is a major part of what a library does, it is only the tip of the iceberg of what is available at a library, Yoshimura said.
“The library really is a community center,” she said. “People use it for all kinds of activities. I think people will be very happy with the building and everything it represents. It will bring together people of different experiences and will be a place for people to explore all types of options they are interested in. The beauty of a public library is it really is for everyone.”
The new two story-building that is under construction where the old one stood on Sixth Street is more than 52,000 square feet. It is scheduled to be completed in spring of 2012.
Currently, the library houses about 140,000 items, Yoshimura said. She said she doesn’t expect that to increase, at least initially, even though the library could house up to 260,000 items. Rather than shelving the books from floor to ceiling as is the case currently, items will mostly be at eye level.
“The things don’t check out on the bottom shelf,” she said. “When we move them around suddenly they will check out. The circulation might increase because things will be much easier to find. It will give us a feeling of spaciousness, but that feels up very quickly.”
She pointed out that when the library moved from Carnegie Library Building, where the museum is now, they had 50,000 items but within three years were up to about 80,000.
The new facility will have a dedicated 100-seat meeting room that community groups can use. If a group needs a larger space, they could meet in a building like the nearby Senior Center and still have access to the library’s resources, Yoshimura said.
The new building has an area that teens can use to work on projects that has insulated walls so others won’t be bothered by them. It will have a true children’s area. A computer room will allow people to do online research or search through the many resources that the library subscribes to that the average person may not be able to afford, Yoshimura said.
The new library will also house the tutoring and literacy program, which is currently located on Martin Street.
The library will be a green building. About 30 to 40 percent of the electricity will come from solar energy, Yoshimura said. The design lets the sun go deep into the building, and there will be panels to keep out the glare.
“The building is being built to last a 100 years,” she said. “Many of the standards are designed for years to come.”

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