New downtown library opens Sunday

By Howard Buck, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Library hours

9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday–Thursday

10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday – Sunday

If you go:

• What: Grand opening, Vancouver Community Library.

• When: 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Doors will open about 1:45 p.m.

• Where: 901 C. St., Vancouver (East Evergreen Boulevard and C Street).

• Features: Outdoor ceremony with light refreshments, self-guided tours, craft activities, musical and costume groups, and library mascot Sophie the Otter.

• Cost: Free.

• More information:http://fvrl.org or 360-695-1566.

• Traffic alerts: C Street will close from Eighth Street to Evergreen Boulevard, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On-street metered parking is free on Sundays. Today, parking is free at The Academy on C Street; enter from 12th Street.

Five years after voters approved a construction bond measure, the $38 million Vancouver Community Library debuts Sunday with a festive grand opening.

A block party on C Street will detour vehicle traffic until late afternoon.

Once the VIP speeches conclude, ribbons are cut and main doors swung open about 1:45 p.m., action moves inside the sparkling flagship of the four-county, 13-branch Fort Vancouver Regional Library system.

FVRL staff have left few details to chance in the new jewel, which will operate seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Sunday’s visitors will receive a self-guided tour sheet that features 20 stops of interest on the four floors of public space (library staff and operations occupy a fifth level).

Meantime, here’s the scoop on five can’t-miss attractions, or, at least, particulars to keep in mind.

photoClick image to enlarge parking map.

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• Parking: Promoters of the mixed-development Library Square — to eventually fill the void where the Carr Auto Group dealership once stood — have pledged an underground parking garage with 200 slots reserved for library users. An elevator will zip patrons above ground.

But that’s years away. For now, a small surface lot with 64 spaces reached via East Evergreen Boulevard serves as the first option. There are 36 more free, two-hour diagonal slots on West Reserve Street: They’re the back-in variety, like those on East McLoughlin Boulevard near Clark College.

There’s also metered parking along Evergreen Boulevard, C and Eighth streets, which is free after 6 p.m. and all day on Sundays.

In all cases, a bit of a hike is involved.

Even disabled-access slots in the surface lot are one full city block away from the library’s lone entrance. Disabled or elderly visitors might best make use of the C Street loading zone near the library entrance, before their driver finds parking.

Of course, the downtown facility is pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, with bike racks outside. It’s within one block of at least 13 C-Tran bus routes that serve the corner of Broadway Street and Evergreen Boulevard.

(For Sunday’s event only, there will be free parking at The Academy building, reached by 12th Street. Plenty more spaces lie just east near Officers Row, and at the former library lots off Fort Vancouver Way.)

• ‘Lucky Day’ dawns: In the rear of the lobby underneath a soaring atrium stands FVRL’s newly introduced “Lucky Day” shelf.

Many of the latest hot reads and best-sellers are made available on this shelf, first-come, first-serve. These copies don’t join those placed on hold, so anyone may check them out, on the spot. (A pending hold request by such a lucky customer would be canceled, of course.)

Coming soon behind the shelf will be the Atrium Coffee Corner, a cart operated by Thatcher’s Coffee of Vancouver.

photoSue VanLannen of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library leads a tour up the clearly indexed central staircase of the new Vancouver Community Library in April.

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• Going up: This branch is vertical like no other FVRL location. Visitors must either chug up and down the concrete steps of the main stairwell or make use of two adjoining elevators.

Patrons may prefer the exercise, but the elevators are pleasantly brisk, rather than pokey.

Hard choice? Step back in the lobby and look up: Large labels on the underside of stair landings show what’s on each floor, to help identify one’s destination.

photoThe south-facing fifth-floor roof terrace of the new Vancouver Community Library includes a view of Mount Hood to the east.

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• Roof terrace: The library’s fifth floor holds fiction, and will prove popular. It includes a laptop-friendly Northwest Corner Overlook, where patrons may perch at a counter with a broad vista over part of downtown and connect to free Wi-Fi.

But don’t miss the exceptional south-facing, outdoor roof terrace, which features plantings and benches.

There stand the office towers of downtown Portland; the Fremont and Interstate 5 bridges, and the Columbia; the Vancouver Barracks hospital building and, on clear days, Mounts Hood and Jefferson in the distant Cascade Range.

Just inside, a quiet reading room — the Vancouver Room — features marvelous art from Joyo, Japan, sister city to Vancouver, plus the large “River of Knowledge” piece by Ridgefield mixed-media artist Jennifer Williams.

photoBruce Ziegman, Executive Director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, shows off the Children's section during a tour of the facilities in June. The new branch also has areas dedicated to tweens and teens.

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• Not just for kids: The third floor is all about the children, with picture books, computers, a room for children’s programs, and a separate area devoted to “tweens.” (On the ground floor, a Teen Central area for visitors age 12-19 includes three wide-screen monitors for video games).

There’s loads of fun afoot in the Early Learning Center that splashes in vivid colors across the third floor’s west end.

Amazing hard-resin cones, walls and other shapes invite parents to explore with young children, aimed at ages 0 to 5. They’ll find large numbers, letters of the alphabet, animal shapes and sea, star and weather icons extending floor to ceiling.

There are nursery rhymes, poems, song lyrics and smart riddles posed. And, many steel wheels to spin: Visitors can make it “rain cats and dogs,” for instance.

There’s appeal for grown-ups, here. Look for lyrics from Woody Guthrie and the Beatles, plus countless clever touches sure to amuse. Those star constellations etched into a capsule-like “ice cave”? They’re positioned as they appear above here each July 17, to commemorate the opening.

It’s definitely worth a stop, with plenty new to discover on successive visits.

Howard Buck: 360-735-4515 or howard.buck@columbian.com.