Trip to Seattle Public Library

Here’s an after-report from Pinn Crawford (SLIM-OR Public Relations Officer Extraordinaire)

Also Check out the Flickr feed in the sidebar for some pictures.

Last weekend a handful of SCALA members, brave enough to face the pouring rain and I-5 traffic, met up at Seattle’s new iconic Central Library. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus, the library is an unconventional, high-tech twist of glass and recycled wood and plastic with great open spaces and bells and whistles to spare.Of special note were the beautiful Children’s Center, the busy (but quiet) computer area and the Living Room, an area with coffee shop, recycled rubber easy chairs and low, spacious shelving.

The level of environmental efficiency was much greater than most buildings and was both inspirational and very impressive to look at. The Library’s LEED certification is well warranted.

After a one hour tour of the ten floors of the vast space with the regular tour, the group was treated to a behind the scenes chat and tour with Librarian, Craig Kyte. As well as providing a forum to ask more library-specific questions, Kyte took us to look at the automated book return system. The friendly attendant showed how the material drops from several slots around the building and then feeds it via futuristic conveyor belts to the central sorting room where a computer sorts the material into hefty bins divided by subject.

“Originally they sorted all the material and put it on the carts, but that didn’t work so well,” admitted the attendant. “It’s a lot faster the way we do it now.”

Though not nearly as impressive as the sweeping cathedral dwarfing vaulted glass ceilings, the guide, Alan Mendelsson explained that the ten floors of shelves have some space on their own, intentionally include for future expansion. “Libraries are always torn down because there isn’t enough room for more material,” said the guide. “Here we are thinking of the future.” The current structure is the third on site library. Thanks to all who organized this fun outing!

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