Sunday, January 15, 2006
Chalk one up for the west side
I have to agree with Bill Wundram on this one and say wow. Only my "wow" isn't just at the facility, but at the public reaction. I got to the area of the library about 10 minutes before the ribbon cutting was scheduled, and figured I'd park in this huge 160-space lot I'd read about. Instead I see a traffic jam like there was a folk concert or something going on. People were walking from every direction and cars were parked everywhere. People were even parking on Heatherton Drive, where I wouldn't park even in daylight hours.
When I got inside I saw where the people from the hundreds of cars were at. The place was packed, and not just with the usual D1 and Library dignitaries, but with a broad cross section of Davenport. There were neighborhood kids signing up for library cards, little old ladies, Craig Malin, families, and librarians in cowboy hats. There were also people there who you could tell had been using the library on a daily basis before the ribbon cutting, and probably viewed all of us with annoyance. I took the behind-the-scenes tour given by one of the library staff. There's a computerized system that keeps track of your daily 10 free pages you can print, and even lets you put credit for the printer/copier on your library card. Twenty computers are given prime real estate right inside the entryway, and the computers in the kids section even have educational games.
The community rooms were open for the public to see, as was the store for discarded and donated books. The coffee shop/cafe is supposed to open in early spring, which should be nice for folks riding past on the bike path. There's a spur right from the bike path to the library bike racks, so people won't even need to drive. If they do drive, there's a drive-up window where you can pick up books you've reserved online, and the usual 24-hour drop boxes.
There were speeches (way too many) from various folks, including both the current and former mayors. Nearly all of the speakers had similar things to say, which boiled down to thanking people for allowing such a wonderful project to happen. I suspect most if not all of the people in attendance had voted for the library levy, so there were many thanks given to the voters also. Most of the current and former aldermen were there, although I was surprised to see that Alderwoman Howard wasn't in attendance.
The facility itself is great, but even greater was seeing so many people there who I would never describe as "againsters." The library was made possible by people willing to pay a bit extra to have a better city for us and our children, who seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly. I can't wait to see the upcoming east-side branch. I left smiling... at least until the mud.