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VOL. 115 | NO. 191 | Thursday, November 8, 2001

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Central Library opening a new adventure says director

Central library opening an adventure


The Daily News

The grand opening of the new Central Library at 3030 Poplar Ave. Saturday rivals Moses parting of the Red Sea in the levels of excitement and anticipation by the participants.

Library director Judith Drescher sees the new location as the start of a great adventure for library patrons, and said Tuesday the excitement was just beginning to mount in anticipation of the grand opening.

The public will finally get to see what weve doing for the past few months, she said.

Mayors Jim Rout and Willie Herenton, as well as the buildings architects will attend the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. It will kick off a weeklong celebration of events.

A corporate parade starts things rolling at 9:15 a.m. when 20 vehicles from local companies and the librarys mobile services will parade from the old Main Library, 1850 Peabody Ave., to the new facility.

Children will bring Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown as the final book to be shelved before the grand opening of the new library.

The Central Library opens to the public after the official opening and will remain open until 4:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to tour the new facility, view the various pieces of public art on display and check out books, tapes and videos.

At 7 p.m., the facility opens for the grand opening gala, a black-tie party to celebrate the new library. Tickets are $150 per person.

The U.S. Postal Service created a commemorative envelope and cancellation stamp to mark the occasion.

As patrons enter the new facility their first sight will be the large grand lobby sculpture by Ed Carpenter, a melange of colored glass, which is the focal point of the librarys atrium and can be seen on all four floors, and by traveling on the glass elevator.

Carpenters sculpture is one of nine pieces on display throughout the facility that have been donated to the new library. The Central Library is one of the first public buildings in Shelby County to have a public art component.

Art and glass are major themes throughout the 330,000-square-foot, five-floor facility. The garden level is partially underground, giving the appearance of four floors above ground.

The childrens area on the first floor has been designed as a story-book come to life by local artist Nancy Cheairs with exotically colored trees, a mosaic house and carpet that looks like the Mississippi River.

The childrens area has an enclosed story-time section and puppet theatre designed by another local artist, Iris Harkavy, who also designed life-sized sculptures, Info Man and the seated Mother with Child.

Glass is an integral part of the buildings design. The wide windows, the glass sculpture, give a sense of openness for those used to the claustrophobic conditions of the Main Library.

Glass and openness have a dual purpose said the librarys director.

Ironically, being more open makes the building more secure, Drescher said.

The designers deliberately left everything open so people will be aware they can be seen by library staff at all times, she said.

The main staircase has steps of frosted glass reminiscent of the staircase in Memphis first public library, the Cossitt Branch on Front Street.

The Memphis and Shelby County Room, part of the history department on the fourth floor, also reflects a mingling of the past and present.

The murals, a montage of photographs, some of which come from the librarys own collection, were designed by Jeane Umbreit. The tables come from the old Cossitt Library and have been refurbished, and the fan windows of the exhibit cases are also reproductions of those at the Cossitt.

New features include a media room on the first floor, which includes 600 DVDs new to the library system, videos, popular seven-day books, childrens videos and the latest CDs.

We want this to be very easy for our patrons to use, said Gina Milburn, Humanities manager.

Milburn said patrons could come in and do a one-stop checkout of any of the items in this area without having to go to the main checkout.

Other new features include a Small Business Center and a Health Information Center, both on the third floor.

With a $1 million grant from FedEx, the Central Library purchased more than 110 of the latest, Internet-ready computers, and for the impatient patron, self-checkout is now available on the first floor.

The Central Library has been built through a public/private partnership. The $70 million cost has been spread among the City of Memphis, which will contribute $38 million; Shelby County, $12 million; and the Foundation for the Library, which has collected $19 million of its $20 million contribution.

Architects for the project are Looney, Ricks, Kiss of Memphis and Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbott of Boston with Frank Ricks as principal.

Hunt Construction Group is the general contractor. The groups projects include the Pyramid and Baptist East Hospital.

PROPERTY SALES 91 293 13,051
MORTGAGES 58 168 8,171
BUILDING PERMITS 99 744 30,678
BANKRUPTCIES 34 156 6,220