Fort Myers, Florida opened a brand spanking new library and I had an opportunity to visit it. With all the talk of paperless libraries, this was a book lovers dream come true.
Large, wide open spaces with lots of windows makes everything bright and cheery. Big rooms have glass walls and huge signs designate Kids Zone and Teen Scene. Light fixtures hang low enough that every title is easily readable. Wide aisles make it easy for more than one person to peruse the shelves.
The Kids Zone has a collection of over 50,800 items, 19 computers and a story time room with puppet stage. There’s seating available for all ages and sizes. Teen Scene is set aside for the tween and teen patrons. There are over 16,000 items with over 4,700 graphic novels. Along with the 12 individuals computers, 6 of them are set up for collaboration. The area features bistro style high and low tables and a gaming area with monitor, seating and systems. It is especially set up with speakers that keep the sound in the confined area.
The first floor offers adults 25 computers with 27 additional ones on the second floor. The A-V area includes over 19,000 DVDs, 2,000 music CDs and 3,000 audio books. The entire second floor for adults has a reading lounge and an outdoor reading deck. They will soon be opening a Genealogy Room.
Attached to the library is a large plaza area that can be viewed from both floors of the library. Plan are in place to add a food court.
When I visited, the library was bustling with people browsing, using the computers, taking advantage of the study rooms, and just relaxing looking out over the plaza. There were volunteers helping everyone get where they needed to be and a voter registration stand set up. And I was there during a quiet period.
The only draw back I saw was the limited parking. My thoughts always go to the disabled and how they can access a place. Once inside, it was perfect, but getting there to begin with is a little tough.
One thing apparent was the pride the citizen have in their new library and the sense of community I saw there. I know it’s the kind of place I could hang out in all day.
Bottom Line: A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life. ~ Henry Ward Beecher