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Citizens preview new Cape library

By Staff | Dec 4, 2009

Northwest Regional Library opened its doors Thursday morning for a sneak peak of Cape Coral’s newest library, located next to Mariner High School.
The library officially opens at 10 a.m. Saturday, but the preview allowed visitors to see what it has to offer the city. Its construction reflected a need for library services in north Cape Coral.
“It is the largest of all the Lee County libraries,” said Ava Barrett, regional manager. “There was a great need in this side of the Cape and the population was growing so fast in this area.”
With state-of-the-art technology and new designs to help librarians engage the community, the 41,000-square-foot facility holds more than 43,000 items in its print collection and 27,000 items in its audio-visual section.
There are also 120 computers in the building, 84 of which are set up for public use.
Northwest Regional Library and Lakes Park Regional Library are the only libraries with equipment to electronically check-in books and audio-visual items.
“When you bring your books back you normally give them to people at the circulation desk or the drop box,” Barrett said. “Rather than have human beings checking in the books, they can be checked in here.”
Books are run through a scanner, then carried on a conveyor belt to be deposited in separate receptacles.
“And if they return it, they will get a receipt,” she said.
The design of Northwest Regional Library is geared to economize time for workers. Staff desks are half the size of other libraries and self check-in and check-out stations cut time spent loaning items.
Besides promoting efficiency, the library is designed so patrons feel comfortable when they are looking for books, using computers or reading.
“We are encouraging people to be comfortable,” Barrett said. “They can sit, bring their laptops and drinks.”
There are five reading courtyards where patrons can read outside, and inside there are common areas with recliners, desks and comfortable chairs for people to lounge.
There are separate areas for adults, children and youth, and a children’s storytime room with a puppet stage.
Being next to Mariner High and Mariner Middle schools, Barrett said the library is expecting visits by a lot of students interested in perusing the largest book and audio-visual collections in the county.
Northwest Regional Library also has a download station where people can copy movies, music and books free of charge to their personal laptops, cell phones and mp3 players.
Sheldon Kaye of the Lee County Library System said there is a meeting room that can hold 170 people.
The library will hold exhibits throughout the year, said Barrett. Its first exhibit is a model of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter next to images from the surface of Mars.
For more information on the Lee County Library System, visit: www.leegov.com/library.