prairie west library makes some noise

It was a pretty exciting ribbon cutting at the Prairie West Branch Library today. Judging from the number of strollers alone, it’s safe to say the children’s section will be hopping out west, along with the rest of the 15,719 square foot (gorgeous) library. 

Some of the kids, however, were less than impressed with the dignitaries who spoke before opening the doors to the public for the first time. 

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Can you blame them? This was the view from outside during comments by Mayor Mike Huether and others. “Mom, this is taking forrrreeevvverr,” one boy complained. Another mother took her children back home (they live two blocks away) with the promise of a return visit when the crowds were less, well, crowded.

A born and bred East-sider, my daughter, who was waiting in line with me, quickly noticed the lack of trees in the neighborhood. This might have been taking the prairie theme a bit far, considering the heat. But we endured the celebration from a distance (it’s never quite as engaging when you can’t actually hear what’s being said).

It was worth the wait. Soon we were inside. For this: 

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(interior shot of the vending area)

And this:

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(Enormous windows let in natural light as one of the library’s many sustainable design features.)

And this:

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(Very cool gel-pad thingy that shifts when you stomp on it near the teen section.)

And, finally, this:

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(Families sitting down to read on just one of the library’s awesome pieces of furniture.)

There were so many people sitting and reading or milling about reading, for a moment I forgot to celebrate and actually got annoyed. My irritability was short lived, however, because readers diving in to a new library with more than 30,000 books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines is kind of a big deal. Plus, it’s not even my neighborhood. One look around the area at 26th and Discovery made it easy to see that before today, these folks had a serious trek to reach a library branch. 

On my side of town, I only have to skip over a few blocks to bask in the glory that is the Oak View Branch Library, which ranks high on my list of Reasons-I-Love-Life-Every-Day.

Even though Prairie West isn’t technically “our” branch library, it was impossible to resist the crisp, new, never-been-paged-through books. 

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(It was nice to see a few friends between the shelves as well as on the shelves.)

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Then, our personal book piles started getting a little … ahem … assertive, considering we still had a four-block saunter to our car ahead of us. 

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(Shhh …. the books are already flying off the shelves—and into my arms.)

Fortunately, the sainted library staff was giving away Siouxland Library tote bags to assist in just this sort of over-indulging dilemma. Anyone who knows me knows I get a little giddy about a free library tote bag. It’s not necessarily cute, but I’m not ashamed of my enthusiasm. (Clarification: the book bags are cute. My greed for them is less-than-cute.)

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(By the way, complete set of 2013 World Book Encyclopedias, in stock. Who needs a Chromebook? I am not joking. Yes, they have computers too. Whatever.) 

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Also, it should be noted that my daughter found a middle grade fiction title that she had read about in the Horn Book, and she was pretty excited to snatch it up. 

Yes, my daughter reads the Horn Book for fun. It’s probably her favorite magazine. This makes me ridiculously proud.

After a dizzying moment when I was tempted to race down the aisles, running my hands over the titles, shouting I WANT TO READ EVERYTHING at the top of my lungs, I came to my senses and headed to check-out. 

Librarian Jane Taylor (from the equally rockin’ Ronning Branch) told me a good number of the patrons visiting today already had library cards, so she didn’t issue as many new cards as she had expected (though they certainly will in the weeks ahead). Wait a minute … some people didn’t have library cards? There are people who don’t use the library every week, day, minute? 

Hmmm … that honestly never occurred to me.

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