Central Library on Webster closes Monday

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Library patrons look for books Thursday at Norman Public Library Central. The Central location will be closing their doors Monday in preparation for the move to the new location.

With one Central Public Library door closing, another one is opening soon to a much larger up-to-date facility on Acres Street.

Norman Public Library Central is closing the doors to its Webster Avenue location Monday to begin the transition to the new library, 103 W. Acres St., which will have a ribbon cutting and grand opening event at 2 p.m. Nov. 3. The library had been operating in the Webster location since 1966.

"So far we have just been mostly packing up things that are in all of our storage areas back there that had been there for 52 years," Caroline Dulworth, associate director for the Pioneer Library Systems, said. "The reason we have to close on Monday is because the books and everything are moving over."

The system bought 50,000 new items for the library, Dulworth said, and removed about 30,000 items. Most of the removed items were damaged, she said, and most were replaced.

Some supplies are being taken to the new location, but a big part of the project is new furnishings. Other than some laminators and other small items, the only big items being moved are the three large wooden bison tables that have been in all of the Norman libraries, and will be located on the third floor.

The new library and Norman Public Library East, which opened in 2018, were funded through Norman Forward, which was passed by voters in 2015. The new three-story building has a variety of tables and chairs on every floor and sections for children, teens, adults, non-fiction, fiction, and several rooms and areas for studying or working.

Before the grand opening the Pioneer Library System will host a Book Brigade at 2 p.m. Oct. 27, which will have participating residents make a link of people across Andrews Park from library to library. The last part of the book move will be the folk tales collection, which will get passed one book at a time from the Webster to Acres location.

Any items checked out through Monday from the Webster location will be due in November. Any other items customers have checked out don't need to be returned until after the new building opens, and fines will not be assessed on any of the items during that time.

Customers can also return items to any of the other 11 Pioneer Library System branches or 24-hour library facilities at any time. All of the other 11 libraries will be open for their regular hours during the closure period of the Webster location.

"The important thing for the customer to know is that we have 11 other libraries that they are encouraged to use and two of them are right here in Norman," Keith Merckx, marketing and communications manager for the Pioneer Library Systems, said. "All of the services that we offer presently through central will be available through all of those other ones as well."

All 71 employees from the Webster location are moving over to Acres, Dulworth said, and so far they have only added two full-time positions. The Central Library will have 11 security guards, 25 full-time employees and the rest as part-time workers.

Beverly Theige, library associate, has been working in the system for 13 years and is excited for the natural light, flexible space and new technology that fills the halls of the new location. Susan Conway, library associate, has been working in the system for more than 11 years and agreed with Theige that the new location is beautiful.

"They designed it in such a way that this building will carry us many decades into the future," Conway said.

Tara McCleod, children's manager for the Pioneer Library Systems, has worked at the Webster location for six years and said the closing is bittersweet.

"We have had a lot of memories there and we have watched a lot of kids grow up there," McCleod said. "We are very excited about this new building, and I'm really excited about the amount of space that we have for people."

The space and the views that space offers, are what Dulworth loves the most about the new library. She particularly loves the larger amount of space the location provides for community gatherings.

The first floors opens up with the "Market Place," which has DVDs and popular fiction, and rounding the corner is a children's story time area which is also the most colorful area. The entire library uses geothermal heating and air, which Dulworth said makes this building, even with three levels, more energy efficient than the old building.

The second floor will be the technology hub with a maker space that will contain technologies like 3D printers, virtual goggles and laser cutters. Inside that room is also a sound lab and visual lab for podcasts and broadcasting capabilities.

Throughout the second floor are study and meeting rooms, and iPads and tablets that can be checked out next to computers that will line the walls. There are also a couple of larger meeting rooms that can be reserved, and a green roof just by the window.

The third floor is primarily filled with meeting rooms starting with one that can be divided into two rooms and seats 300 and ending with one that can seat 25 in a classroom setting. The non-fiction area and a history corner with a giant window that opens up with a walkout overlooking the train tracks fill the right side of the third floor.

There are also giant windows on the second and third floor, and a balcony on the third floor, that provide views of the heart of Norman.

Dulworth said after surveying the public some people wanted an Oxford and classic feel and some wanted a modern feel, but the construction and design crews did a commendable job of blending both.

To find our more about programs, services and hours of operation for any of the 11 library locations visit www.pioneerlibrarysystem.org or use the Pioneer Library System Connect App.

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