After getting a special press-only sneak preview of Darien’s new $24 million dollar, soon-to-be-certified “Green,” state-of-the-art library yesterday, all I can say is:
Oh. My. GAWD.
I guarantee that you will be ABsolutely FLOORED by how majestic and lovely it is architecturally, while still maintaining a comfortable, community-oriented atmosphere. I also guarantee that other media will cover, in great detail, all of the bells and whistles this Library has to offer: they are beyond impressive and deserving of a 10-page spread. So let me, instead, tell you about what most impacted and excited me about this fabulous new Community Center.
Beyond the soaring ceilings and double-story windows designed to capture the sunlight as it travels across the sky from sunrise to sunset; beyond the countless, comfortable seating areas with free wifi, an abundance of outlets for laptops, and study nooks and cozy fireplaces to curl up in front of and enjoy quiet; beyond the state-of-the-art computer centers and EZ-Pass-like self-checkout and return technologies; beyond the CAFE (oh yes, food and drink and tables and socialization ENCOURAGED) and row of 5 flat panel screens that appear to be taller than me as you first walk into the main foyer, called “Main Street,” that show various messages and information about library programs, events, new books, and a map of how to find your way around; beyond the fact that there are no more “desks” behind which Librarians sit, but rather “consultation tables” and Librarians who float around with tablet laptops dedicated to helping you find what you’re looking for; beyond the fact that practically everything from building materials to geo-thermal heating and cooling and air circulation systems represent the best of eco-friendly engineering; beyond the children’s section that is almost as big as the entire original library and easily accessible on the first floor, including soundproof audio-visual and activity rooms with heated, corkboard flooring as well as a toddler play area, bathrooms with changing tables and a Microsoft Surface, touchscreen coffee table computer for kids to use to doodle and learn about technology …….. beyond all of this, and it’s a LOT, what impressed me most about the new Darien Library is the fact that the books, everywhere, but especially in the children’s room, have been shelved, labelled and organized in a way that makes me feel less like a moron and more empowered to find what I’m looking for on my own.
Now don’t get over excited: our old friend Dewey Decimal is still used to guide the Librarians, but above the code that so many of us suffered to learn in grade school are easy-to-understand labels. Like “KIDS.” or “TRAVEL.” The reason this speaks to me, in addition to the fact that it’s relieving me of the need to curse myself for not paying closer attention to card-cataloging techniques in middle school, is because I feel like the Library, which in my mind used to be a little intimidating and kind of like a disapproving Mother, is reaching out to ME. “Library” is saying to ME that she wants to be like ME and doesn’t expect me to be like her anymore.
(Mommy issues, anyone?!)
But seriously, this new Library has completely re-organized itself to represent me, and meet my needs, and be a place that is accessible and useful to me, my kids, our teens, our parents, our business colleagues, our book groups, our committee meetings, and everyone in our community. And believe it or not, I only just now discovered that their new tagline is “It’s For You!” So if you ask me, they absolutely succeeded in delivering on that expectation.
Seriously: YOU CANNOT NOT VISIT THIS PLACE. No matter who you are (or who you think you are), there is something here for you. Their robust and informational website is here: the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening is this Saturday, January 10th, at 10am. Brace yourself for the fact that parking will be a nightmare for the first few weeks — trust me, you’ll get over it once you get inside!
I truly hope you will post your reactions, thoughts and comments about the new Library here once you’ve seen it — I can’t wait to hear what you think!