After months of controversy and construction, Borders bookstore will open its doors to the public today.
It's all a matter of perspective.
To Lisa Bakke, manager of the new Borders bookstore in downtown Lawrence, the place was looking great on Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of books lined new shelves, listening stations in the music department were set up and the smells of cookies baking and coffee brewing wafted out of the cafe.
To a visitor, it might have been tougher to imagine the store opening at 9 a.m. today: Piles of books littered the aisles, boxes were stacked high, walls were being painted and a small army of workers swarmed over the building.
"At this point," Bakke said Thursday afternoon, "I look around here and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. You're looking at people who worked 15 hours yesterday and will work that long again today."
The final struggle to open is fitting, in a way.
Though many welcomed Borders -- a national bookstore chain -- to downtown Lawrence, others tried to block it.
In the 18 months since plans were announced, the store has faced hurdles from preservationists concerned the store would mar the historic character of downtown, business advocates fearful of its effect on local retailers and a petition drive to stop its construction.
All that is Lawrence history now that the store is open.
Customers will find about 200,000 titles on the shelves, 1,600 periodicals on the magazine and newspaper racks and more than 50,000 titles in the music department. The cafe will offer coffees, teas, light meals and desserts.
But while Bakke was optimistic about the chances of pulling it all together in time, store spokeswoman Susan Depranger was a little less certain.
Over the din of hammers and the whine of power tools, she had this to say: "I guess I thought we'd be a little further along by now."
Late Friday night, Borders' workers were still hard at work stacking shelves.
-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.