Kathleen Kanarski, the Branch Manager for North Village

lkdooley [Email address: lkdooley #AT# gmail.com - replace #AT# with @ ]" target="_blank">Laura Dooley

The North Village Branch of the Austin
Public Library finally has a home to call its own. Housed in leased
space since its inception in 1971, North Village now graces a new
building at 2505 Steck Avenue, just west of Burnet.

On Saturday, May 30, the building
opened to the public to great fanfare. It’s a striking building and
is very accessible by foot, bike, or car. Neighbors started arriving
two hours in advance of the 10:00 ribbon-cutting to enjoy each
others’ company along with live music, cold drinks, and delicious
food from Boomerang’s.

John Gillum, Library Facilities
Planning Manager, has described North Village as a library for the
future. It’s built according to a bookstore model, with open,
inviting areas for meeting, browsing, and relaxing. There’s a
station for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, and plenty of outlets for
plugging in laptops. Sticking with the bookstore model, Gillum said,
“Our collection is new and will be constantly refreshed. We’re
putting books on the shelf that people want to come in and grab.”

North Village Library Interior Not only is the space warm and
inviting, it’s designed to comply with the Green Building Program
concepts. Said Gillum, “This is the greenest building we’ve ever
built, and we’ve been building green since 1989.” Some of the
green features of North Village include a rainwater harvesting
system, rooftop solar panels, and xeriscape landscaping.

Brenda Branch, Director of the city’s
library system, welcomed the crowd and gave an overview of what we’d
see inside: new magazines and periodicals, 30,000 books, 1,400 DVD’s,
1,500 CD’s, a large meeting room, a public “living room,” and
14 computers.

The CD collection includes a large
number of Playaways, which were very intriguing to my six-year-old
son. Playaways are preloaded and portable audiobooks; imagine a small
MP3 player that contains the audiobook. They require little
additional equipment; as Walter Minkel, Assistant Branch Manager,
said, “If you have a pair of headphones, you’re set.” He also
explained that this branch is moving away from being a total-book
library and moving toward being a mixed-media library.

City Council Member Laura Morrison After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which
included City Council Member Laura Morrison, the crowd streamed into
the new library and began to explore the welcoming, light-filled
space.

Austin’s Art in Public Places program
had selected Kathleen Ash, a local glass artist, for the public art
project at North Village. Visitors will be delighted to see the
window wall that she created between the browsing area and the
meeting room. She has used colorful laminated glass depicting
children sailing on books, over an ocean of letters, heading toward
an island of discovery. She also has an installation suspended by
cables in the library’s living room. It’s worth a trip to the
library just to see the art!

My four-year-old daughter’s eyes
widened at the sight of the children’s section. It’s bright,
welcoming, and full of colorful books right at eye-level for little
ones. Aubrey Sanders, the Children’s Librarian, will be offering
programs for kids throughout the summer. For more information about
storytimes and the summer reading program, check out the website for
the Austin Public Library at
http://www.austinlibrary.com/calendar_plus.cfm. This site also
contains information on youth programs at North Village and all of
the city’s branch libraries.

If you haven’t visited North Village
yet, I urge you to do so. But plan ahead. You’ll want to stay
awhile!