The new Wichita library opens to the public Saturday, June 16, and you’re going to want to be there!
The Advanced Learning Library at 711 W. 2nd Street in Wichita will replace the old Central Branch location. It’s a brand new building, with neat new spaces (both indoors and out), and cool new features that will make this library a place for the community to gather and collaborate.
Although the library looks much larger, it’s because the space is spread out across a large main level and a smaller second floor. The old Central library was four floors. The new space is just under 100,000 square feet.
You’ll be able to explore and experience the new library Saturday. Although not everything is completely finished (they’ll be adding some artwork, furnishings, etc.), it’s functional and ready for business. The coffee shop may not be ready by Saturday.
Yeah, there’s going to be a coffee shop in the library, and you’ll be able to bring your beverages – with lids, of course – throughout the library to enjoy while you study, do research, meet with your book club, or just kick back and read.
What you can expect on Saturday is a day of activity. A ceremonial book brigade begins at 8:30 a.m., where they pass books from person to person all the way from the Central library to the Advanced Learning Library. The ribbon cutting will be at 9:30 a.m., after which they’ll open the doors for demonstrations and activities in the new space.
The main parking area is on the west side (the back) of the new library. It will probably fill up fast on Saturday. Overflow parking will be available in the Gander Mountain parking garage across the river, and Wichita Transit will be providing FREE shuttle service between the library and the garage between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The full schedule of grand opening events is on the Library’s Facebook event page. It will include music in the conference center, story times for the kids, sewing and “maker” demos in the TECnovation Room, and a lot more.
The fiction and children’s areas of our new library feels like a bookstore. The big difference, though, is that when you go up to the self-checkout you don’t have to pay anything. <3 (Unless you owe late fees, I guess.)
So if you have time before the big concert Saturday, try to stop by! A few things you’ll want to look for when you go:
- Watch the conveyor belt move returned library books and other materials to exactly where they need to go to get checked back in.
- Try out the new library self-checkout stations. If you don’t have a library card, you can get one.
- Watch the 3-D printer make something in the TECnovation room
- Check out the kids area – it has an indoor story time room and an outdoor courtyard. Elephant & Piggie will be doing story time in the Children’s Pavilion at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
- Also in the Children’s Pavilion, step onto the interactive floor near the entrance to see what happens!
- Step outside onto the Reading Terrace on the second floor. Eventually they will have patio furniture where you can enjoy a book outside.
- Look at the collab rooms on the first floor; they’re like small conference rooms for a few people. One of them has a green screen and you can record podcasts, videos, etc.
- Count all the charging stations and power outlets. Our phones will never have to die. 🙂
- Visit the video section if you like movies. They have shelves and shelves of movies that can be borrowed if you have a library card.
- Last but not least, go over near the soon-to-be coffee shop and find the Short Story Dispenser! Choose whether you have 1 minute to read, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes and push a button. It will spit out a literary story for you (for free). It’s pretty fun – I’ll be the machine will go through a lot of paper on Saturday.
A few more noteworthy things about the library…
There will be a drive-through area where you can not only return your library books, but also pick them up!
The collab rooms will, at least initially, be free to check out for two hours at a time.
A big new conference room you can rent seats up to 100 people in each of three sections. It has fancy new technology like infrared sound. During Saturday’s grand opening, the music performances will be in the conference room, so you’ll get an opportunity to see it in use.
The new library has an area just for teens, with books, screens where they can play video games, and study nooks.
On the second level, the new library has a Historical Research Pavilion with photos, maps, genealogy information, microfilm, and a room for recording oral history.
A section of the library right next to the Teen Pavilion is available for peer to peer learning. The seating in that area includes couches and chairs with desks so you can take notes.