Library fans who have been missing the smell of books and their children’s story time events will have something new to check out Tuesday.
The Lawrence Public Library, after closing for two weeks, will reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday at its temporary location in the former Borders building at Seventh and New Hampshire streets. Library staff will decorate the library with balloons and greet opening day visitors with cookies and punch.
Upcoming library events
Meet the Author: Benjamin Lorr
Tuesday 7 p.m.
Lawrence Public Library, 700 New Hampshire St.
Benjamin Lorr is the author of "Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga."
Library Rummage Sale
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 9
707 Vermont St.
Items from the library on sale, including posters, puppets, filing cabinets and light fixtures. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Library.
Farewell (for now) to the Library
2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 10
707 Vermont St.
A fond farewell (for now) to the library building at 707 Vermont St. before it goes under construction. Light refreshments will be offered along with the opportunity to walk through the empty building and sign your name to a wall.
This will be the library’s home until April 2014, while work continues on the $18 million expansion project at its permanent site at Seventh and Vermont streets.
In the meantime, the library will keep its regular hours and offer the same services and most of the same events, according to library staff. But visitors will find some changes, too, as the library takes on the appearance of the former bookstore and uses the temporary space as a laboratory for new services.
Much will be familiar to library visitors and former bookstore shoppers alike. The library has adopted the old checkout counter — but not the practice of charging for books — and the circular information desk near the middle of the main room. The library even gave a nod to the old bookstore in its placement of the fiction, mystery and nonfiction, sections.
Most, but not all, of the library’s 220,000-item collection fits in the temporary space, which is smaller than the building at 707 Vermont St. Library staff brought everything they could, down to Howie, the orange parrotfish who lives in a tank in the children’s section. All of the children’s books, all of the DVDs and other media, and the vast majority of the young-adult books are present and accounted for. About half of the books for adults didn’t fit in the temporary space but are available on request.
“This is the meat and potatoes,” library director Brad Allen said of the temporary location. “We can’t wait to get the side dishes, when the new building is ready again.”
Those books that didn’t fit are kept in storage at a facility in East Lawrence, and Allen said he expects to be able to produce them on request within 24 hours.
“We don’t want people to hesitate to ask for that,” Allen said. “We can get it. It’s not putting us out.”
Library staff have tried to re-create the children’s area and the Teen Zone, even though there isn’t as much space at the new location, said Susan Brown, marketing director for the library. The children’s area, with its fish tank and the Lego table, is not far from the teen area, in what used to be the bookstore’s cafe.
“Everybody is going to have to get along,” Brown said. “It’s really fun and interesting to be in a new space, but it’s also been a lot of work.”
Over the next year and a half, Brown said, the library will try out some new methods in this space, such as using fewer service desks and freeing up more staff to roam the library answering questions — much as in a bookstore. The library will also encourage more visitors to use the self-checkout computers, though staff will still be there to check out books.
Beginning in February, patrons can expect to start checking out e-readers, including Kindles and Nooks, and use one of the library’s 10 new laptops while they’re in the library. Digital versions of magazines will be available on loan through Zinio, a kind of electronic newsstand.
For now, all of that remains in the future. Tuesday, the library staff will focus on opening day and hosting the first author reading at the new location, Brown said. Many of these events will be held in a rear room with large windows that once served as the bookstore’s cafe reading room. For larger events, the library will have to seek out space from community partners.
Allen, the library director, said he was proud of the staff for handling the move successfully, and grateful to library patrons for their patience during the move.
“We’re really thrilled to open up again,” he said. “This is a really good temporary space, and we can’t wait to open up in the new building.”