In Our View: Visit the Crib

Downtown library moves beyond ceremony; now might be a better time to check it out

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Crowds around a crib usually start thinning out along about the second week after a baby is born. That’s why we’re thinking this week might be a good time to visit the spectacular new Vancouver Community Library at Evergreen Boulevard and C Street downtown.

We’re not saying the new has worn off. No, sir. It’ll take a long time for folks to get used to that $38 million, five-story, state-of-the-art structure next to the freeway. We’re just saying that, by now, the ribbons have been cut, the pontificating politicians have left the library to speechify elsewhere, and any first-week wrinkles have been ironed out. So if you missed the big celebration two Sundays ago, consider creeping up next to the crib and taking a gander at the newborn entering its second week.

And if you run into 25-year-old Alyssa Siers at the library, you can ask her a few questions, because she knows the place well, having attended on Day One with 5-month-old daughter Ruby. “I wanted her to be here on the first day,” Alyssa boasted to a Columbian reporter on July 17. “I plan on bringing her here as she grows up … and getting lots of use out of it.”

Here are a few other reasons to patronize the new library and unleash your oohs and ahhs:

This is not your father’s stuffy library. It reaches out warmly to children, to simultaneously entertain them and teach them. The Early Learning Center on the third floor is designed for infants through 5-year-olds.

Marvel at the artwork on every floor.

Explore the four major areas: the River Zone, Land of Imagination, Light Tower Zone and Community Resource Center.

Visit the main floor’s Friends of the Library Booknook, where you can buy used books.

Search the fourth floor for your favorite nonfiction and world-language materials. And if that’s too real-world for you, find the fiction world up on the fifth floor, which also features large-print books, biographies and a sprawling outdoor terrace with views in three directions.

Examine the several public meeting rooms; talk to library officials if you’re interesting in renting one.

See how a whole new world of learning explodes before you as a main library moves from 36,000 square feet at the old site to 83,000 square feet in the new building, and when a library moves from 16 computers at the old site to 69 in the new building.

Take a look at the library’s Teen Center, with its computers, video games and collections of young adult books and magazines.

Observe energy efficiency in all its high-tech glory. The new library is designed to use 33 percent less energy than required by code.

Learn why visits to the main library are expected to increase from 436,749 annually at the old building to more than a million in coming years at the new library.

Ask yourself how downright giddy those library employees must have been recently, and how quickly that delight was overtaken by the immense amount of hard work that was required by moving from the old site.

Take pride in your community’s showpiece of democracy in action. This library was not built because it was decreed by any municipality or mandated by any Legislature or earmarked by any Congress. It was built because 63 percent of voters in the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District five years ago said they wanted it and were willing to pay for it. It was also built because philanthropists donated land and millions of dollars.

Finally, here’s a special invitation to those 37 percent of voters who opposed the ballot measure: Visit the new Vancouver Community Library and see if, just maybe, you’ve changed your mind.