By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Courtesy of the Pioneer Library System and the city, the Norman Public Library West plans to open Nov. 1.
The westside library satellite is located inside the former Borders Bookstore, 300 Norman Center Court. Pioneer Library System purchased the defunct bookstore about two years ago with plans to renovate the building for use as administrative offices and a service center.
The spacious building was more than PLS administrators needed, however, and the library system offered 7,000 square feet worth of space to Norman for use as a westside satellite.
Growth on Norman’s westside has been strong, and the site is located just off Interstate 35 near Sooner Mall, where many children’s storytime groups were being hosted in an attempt to meet the growing needs of the expanding community.
Now, the dual-use building is nearing completion, and librarians have been busy this week filling the bookshelves.
Collections manager Caroline Dulworth said 14 pallets were delivered this week, with 17,000 books for librarians to sort, shelve and organize in the new library. Because the site is smaller than a main branch library, only the most in-demand items will be carried.
“It’s more popular fiction and non-fiction,” Dulworth said. “It’s not a research collection like it is at the main library.”
High interest non-fiction includes gardening, diets, animals, cooking trends and other hot-topic hobbyist topics. The westside library will carry the newest publications.
“Almost all of the books in this library have been published in the last three years,” Dulworth said.
The smaller book collection also will be organized differently. Adult fiction novels will be grouped together as fiction, whether is popular fiction, romance, sci-fi or mystery. Additionally, teen fiction will be grouped with adult fiction.
“A lot of adults are reading teen novels, and teens are reading a lot of adult novels,” Dulworth said.
Organizing the genres together makes it easier for people to find books. They can go straight for their favorite authors. The grouping also saves space.
“We’ve done it in places where space is an issue,” Dulworth said. “I like it. I think patrons will like it.”
The westside library will serve some different categories. The small space will serve high-demand patrons who want a quick in-and-out pickup of items. A 24-hour library and 24/7 movie box will be available round the clock under a protective portico near the entrance on the outside of the library.
Inside, sizzlers — the highest-demand new releases — well be housed on easy-to-access book gondolas. These gondolas — or double-sided, portable bookcases — will carry 10 or 15 copies of new releases.
“We do a lease plan so we can get a lot of copies in, and then when interest wanes, we can send them back,” Dulworth said.
All of the books in the new library will be subject to a three-year turnover to keep the small collection fresh. Those books will be reused elsewhere at the branch libraries throughout the Pioneer Library System.
“We think people will stop in here as a quick stop,” said Nancy Littlejohn, acting department head.
For those who want to stay a while, there will be a coffee shop operated by Michael Palermo, of Michelangelos Coffee and Wine Bar. Free Wi-Fi will allow residents to sip their favorite coffee drink while surfing the Internet.
In-house computers also will allow for online access. A free rental machine will allow patrons to check out iPads to be used inside the library.
The library will include a children’s section and plenty of furniture for patrons of all ages who want to hang out.
Library staff will share Pioneer’s staff lounge, restrooms and kitchen space. The construction and equipping of the coffee bar will be provided by Pioneer, Masters said, and will require no funding from the city. Private vendors will bid to provide that service.
The administrative portion of the site includes the largest sorter in the PLS system. Materials will come into the site and be run through the sorter where they end up in bins, according to the branch in the Pioneer Library System, where they need to be transported.
Administrative staff is settling into their new offices in the back portion of the building. There are conference rooms and lots of shared space, said Executive Director Anne Masters, who will have an office in the new building.