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Literature lovers flock to library opening

One for the books

Video of the new Augusta-Richmond County Public Library.
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Friday was no quiet day at the library.

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Diners hit the buffet at the reception for Author Dorthea Benton Frank as part of the Grand opening celebration for the new Augusta Public Library.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Diners hit the buffet at the reception for Author Dorthea Benton Frank as part of the Grand opening celebration for the new Augusta Public Library.

Hundreds of people filed in after the 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony to get a peek at the three-story structure that towers over its predecessor across the street.

More activities, including a keynote presentation by author Dorothea Benton Frank and a social event, followed Friday evening.

"We have been in need of a new library for years," said Ingrid Tutt, who recalled going to the old building for debutante meetings.

"It was old then," she said, "and that was in the '80s."

The new library holds a lot of new books -- 22,000 were added to the ones moved from the previous location -- and includes many new features such as a self-checkout center, several study rooms and meeting areas, a puppetry theater and a Georgia Genealogy Room.

"This is a prime example of what can happen when people come together in Augusta," Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.

Nancy Carver, a nine-year library employee, said she couldn't get over the extra space.

"The first time I stepped in, there were no walls," she said. "I looked at Greene Street and thought, 'You can play football in here.' "

They weren't playing ball on Friday, but children did enjoy balloons and dancing while adults began stacking up books to check out. There was also a line of future patrons filling out requests for new library cards.

Director Gary Swint said it's been a long road since the first discussions of a new library, about 15 years ago.

"I've been looking forward to this day for a long time," he said.

It was a day unique for libraries, which have seen funding dry up in recent years. According to a study released last year by the American Library Association, a majority of public libraries have seen funding reductions during the current economic downtown.

Augusta's new $24 million library was built with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues, $2 million from the state and additional funding from the library foundation board's capital campaign to raise $3 million.

Though he enjoyed the Friday opening, Swint admitted he would have liked a few more weeks to get everything just right, including the placement of some new furniture.

But Marcus Palmer had no complaints.

He said he found the new library cozy even in the middle of Friday's excitement.

"It has more space where you can sit down and relax and read," he said. "The other one was a little cluttered."

The open design of the building, Swint said, allows for librarians to cover more space more easily and serve the larger area.

Several employees were added, including a new security guard. Security cameras were also installed around the perimeter of the building.

"People have commented, 'You must be worried somebody's going to steal a book,' " Swint said. "I'm worried about that to some extent, but I'm much more worried about the people's safety."

As for the old building, its fate is undetermined. Plans change from "week to week," Swint said. Ideas range from moving in city departments to selling it, but ultimately it's the city commissioners' decision.

If you go

The library at 823 Telfair St. will resume normal business hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 2-5:30 p.m. Sunday. The genealogy section's hours are not set. For more information, call (706) 821-2600 or go to www.ecgrl.org.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES

TODAY: 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1-2:30 p.m., storytelling workshop; noon to 1 p.m., petting zoo; 1-2 p.m., clown and magician; 2-4 p.m., African American genealogy; 3-5 p.m., Teen Idol; and 6 p.m., coffee and cake with author Leonard Todd

SUNDAY: 2:30 p.m. storytelling; 2:30-5 p.m., genealogy lock-in; 3-5 p.m., Murder Mystery Teen Scavenger Hunt; and 6 p.m., cake and coffee with author Joe Cumming Jr.

Comments (17) Add comment
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countyman
21701
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countyman 06/25/10 - 10:43 am
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I'm glad to see Augusta

I'm glad to see Augusta moving forward. A beautiful 100,000 sq. ft. Library downtown.

Riverman1
94457
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Riverman1 06/26/10 - 07:20 am
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The building is nice and I'm

The building is nice and I'm glad they tried to conform somewhat to the historic architectural style of the city. However, libraries are a dying thing. A Kindle reader has more books on it than all the libraries put together. Libraries should be housed in a backroom office behind a restaurant somewhere on Broad St. and their purpose should be to support online readers, groups and researchers. But that's okay, the building is great and will always be used for something even when online libraries leave it obsolete.

Linder Finneganer
0
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Linder Finneganer 06/26/10 - 07:47 am
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I love the new library.

I love the new library. Libraries are becoming community centers. The crowd at the opening illustrated that. There were people from all walks of life. There are so many exciting activities for children and adults alike. The library provides many free services too. The new library is a wonderful new addition to our city.

PhiloPublius
386
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PhiloPublius 06/26/10 - 09:34 am
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Someone needs to invent some

Someone needs to invent some kind of system that would allow people to access reading material and all types of information right from their computers! Maybe we could call it "The Internet".

On second thought, that would never work. People would never go for that. Lets just spend more tax dollars opening public libraries. After all, people are lining up to get inside of those buildings!

Riverman1
94457
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Riverman1 06/26/10 - 01:59 pm
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JeremyC, that's really the

JeremyC, that's really the case. Some want to spend money to build big buildings and pay salaries to librarians when I'll bet there are 10,000 online readers to every 1 that visits the library.

Remember how the newspaper used to be put in that wood handle thing for the spine so it couldn't be messed up? I bet 30-40 people a day read it that way. So what happens online now with the paper? 80-90 thousand read it.

Still a nice building that can be used as a community center and a place for the homeless to hang out at during the day.

Riverman1
94457
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Riverman1 06/26/10 - 02:35 pm
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A poster on an earlier

A poster on an earlier article about the library said they weren't going to let the homeless hang out here like they did in the other libraries. Does anyone know if that's true? Are they hiring security, off duty officers on "specials" or what?

The courts have ruled you can't stop ANYONE from hanging out in the library. So how will that be handled at this one?

troylus
1
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troylus 06/27/10 - 07:23 am
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Riverman: It is a bit

Riverman: It is a bit pretentious to say everyone can afford a $150+ for a Kindle or a Nook. Then, you have to buy the majority of the literature. Giving access to literary information to the public far outweighs the minuscule financial savings you suggest. Also, while much of America is connected to the internet, far fewer are connected than have access to a library. Libraries are far from outdated; it is short sighted to think that electronic data can survive indefinitely. Try to stick one of those 3.5" floppy disks into your computer now.

Riverman1
94457
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Riverman1 06/27/10 - 07:32 am
0
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Troy, I'm not going to knock

Troy, I'm not going to knock this thing too much because it is a functional building that can be used forever no matter the technological advances. But I totally disagree that there are fewer people on the internet than who VISIT a library. That's not even close.

A library could be all electronic and online in way that actually provides more live help than possible today. A book could be read on an actual computer for those who don't have a Kindle. All the paintings in the world can be viewed via online galleries.

Know what caught my attention with the photos the day after the opening hoopla? The people checking out movies even thought the article was about "literature lovers." Movies can be downloaded easily.

Big Boss
0
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Big Boss 06/28/10 - 03:10 pm
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Libraries are nothing more

Libraries are nothing more than a breeding ground for socialism. They are good for nothing but taking children and brainwashing them with puppet shows and Dr. Seuss books.

KSL
144947
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KSL 06/28/10 - 03:35 pm
0
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I love Dr Seuss and I'm no

I love Dr Seuss and I'm no liberal.

KSL
144947
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KSL 06/28/10 - 03:48 pm
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I have a Kindle and I really

I have a Kindle and I really like the convenience of it. But there is something about holding the real book in your hands, the feel of it, the weight, actually turning the pages, even the smell of brand new books. It's seems so much more personal than staring at a computer screen.

Going to a library is an experience much like going to a zoo, a museum or art gallery. It's a special experience, akin to being at the World Series, or the Super Bowl compared to watching them on TV.

It's just a coincidence, but one of my sons told me the other day how much he enjoyed my taking them to the library when they were growing up.

DowntownJaguar
125
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DowntownJaguar 06/28/10 - 05:07 pm
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LOL--good stuff Big Boss.

LOL--good stuff Big Boss.

Republicant
3
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Republicant 06/29/10 - 09:08 pm
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Those liberals and their

Those liberals and their pesky books...Reading is of the devil Bobby Bouchier!!!!

KSL
144947
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KSL 06/29/10 - 09:26 pm
0
0
Dang, Repub, I've already

Dang, Repub, I've already disproved that. Get real.

stephr721
204
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stephr721 06/30/10 - 09:23 am
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I'm with you KSL. I love

I'm with you KSL. I love gadgets, but the Kindle and Nook(i)e-reader just can't replace a book in print. If you don't mind used books, The Book Tavern has a really great selection. The owner, David, is a fun character to talk to as well.

We went to the library the other night, it's a beautiful space. Looks like they could use some donations to fill in some of the empty racks though. I checked their web site, and didn't find anything about book donations. Anyone know if they have a policy or wish list?

commonsense09
12
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commonsense09 07/01/10 - 11:37 am
0
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There's a donation form

There's a donation form here:
http://www.checkitoutaugusta.com/Downloads/CheckItOutAugusta_DonorForm.pdf

I hope those saying the physical library will be replaced by online books were kidding. There are many books that are not available for sale on online readers. I buy a lot of books and still use the library for those I know I only want to read once, to consult specialized reference resources, and of course, for access to out of print books that are not all on Project Gutenberg or Google Books. And the library does offer e-books and e-audiobooks, too!

In addition to the specialized sources you can't reasonably purchase for yourself, and can't find 'out there' online, libraries offer services to the community that generate, based on the average of the 8 studies linked below, on average, a taxpayer return of $4.99 for every $1 spent.
http://dpi.wi.gov/pld/econimpact.html

And, if what you need is instruction on how to find the best of what's out there on the free web, a librarian can show you how to do that, too.

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