Augusta library tour offers up sneak preview

Transition to new facility has begun

If you need to return a book to the main library on Greene Street, you're too late. It closed last week.

Preparations are under way for the big move into the new $24 million library at James Brown Boulevard and Telfair Street.

The new Augusta Public Library is scheduled to open June 25.

The opening will be followed by a week of special activities for young and old, including puppet shows for children, a Guitar Hero competition for teens, and a genealogy workshop for adults interested in tracing their roots.

The library was built with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money, $2 million from the state, and additional funding from the Library Foundation Board's capital campaign to raise $3 million.

You can have the library named in your honor, or a loved one's, by donating $1 million. If that's too steep, there are other naming opportunities, such as a $300,000 donation to have the Georgia Heritage Room, the Children's Library or the large meeting room; or $20,000 for one of the study rooms.

The library was designed by the architectural team of Studio 3 Design Group, of Augusta, and Craig Gaulden Davis, of Greenville, S.C.

The limestone main entrance leads into a three-story atrium with wood grained panels and terrazzo floors, a space designed to make a visual impression. Although the 95,000-square-foot building was designed from the inside out, the exterior is impressive. The two lower floors are mostly red brick, with cream-colored bricks on the third floor. The entire structure has many windows to let in natural light.

On the first floor is a self-checkout, similar to those in grocery stores.

Security is a big part of the new library, and the security area is manned by employees of the city marshal's office who will monitor every nook and cranny through closed-circuit cameras, said Gary Swint, the director of the East Central Georgia Regional Library.

The library is wireless Internet accessible throughout and has room for 145 computers, but there will be only 75 to start with, Swint said.

He recently applied for a federal stimulus grant, which would finance the other computers needed, and would also pay for the expansion of four libraries and construction of three new ones in the 12 counties in east Georgia.

Millie Klosinski, a library development officer, said computers are always in demand.

"There's a line for the computers all day, every day," she said. "In this particular area of Augusta, only one in six families has access to technology. Think about a high school student or even an elementary student without access to a computer after school. Without computers, it's hard to provide enrichment for students, as well as adults."

The public staircase ascends from the first to the third floor. Suspended in the center of the stairwell, a series of glass panels with photographs and drawings depicts the history of public libraries in Augusta for the past 2 1/2 centuries.

The first panel depicts the sailing ship the Charming Nancy, which brought the first collection of books for Augusta from England to the Georgia coast.

Another panel shows the old Masonic Hall on Broad Street, which housed the library in 1835. Above the Masonic Hall is a photograph of Thomas Courtney, Augusta's librarian in the 1850s. Courtney's great-great-grandson Glover R. Bailie Jr. lives in Augusta and is writing a history of his ancestor.

Past the staircase is the children's library.

"The children's librarians are excited about this opportunity because the chance to talk about a book and carry that over and kind of take that to the next level have been missing from our other library, so this will be a chance to reinforce what they've learned in this area," she said.

The teen area on the second floor will be furnished with comfortable chairs, Klosinski said, and will include teen-appropriate literature.

Records, documents and old books that were under lock-and-key in the old library will be in the Georgia Room on the third floor.

A writing lab, where volunteers will help students after school hours, is also on the third floor.

"And we hope that this area will be utilized in the morning to help people with job applications and résumés. Or people who don't speak English can come in and get some direction and help in areas that require writing," Klosinski said.

Also on the third floor are administrative offices and a boardroom that leads to a terrace overlooking Greene Street.

Library features

- A Friends of the Library gift shop

- A meeting room large enough to accommodate almost 300 people

- Wireless Internet accessibility

- Security and closed-circuit cameras throughout the building and parking areas

- A secure children's library equipped with filtered online computers, a puppet theater and story-telling/arts and crafts center

- A collection of DVDs and audiotapes

- An adult area with fiction and nonfiction

- A teen space with computers

- Three study rooms that accommodate six to eight people

- The Georgia Room, housing a special collection of local history and genealogy

- A writing lab

- A boardroom with a walkout rooftop terrace

- A Talking Book Center to serve the blind

- Administrative offices

- Accessibility for people with disabilities