Within minutes of the reopening of the Southern Oaks Library on Tuesday afternoon, Betty Best was on her way out the door with a book.
Best was one of the first customers to see the remodeled library after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She lives across the street and had visited the branch at 6900 S Walker at least twice a week before it closed in May 2011.
“I watched all of the construction from my house,” she said. “I saw the red tile come off the building, and I saw it go back on. But it's nice to have it open again. It's a fabulous library.”
Best checked out a book on Tuesday about developing better eating habits. She said she often checks out books for her husband, who has Parkinson's disease. His favorite subjects are cars and guns.
“Reading keeps his mind alive,” she said.
Areas for kids, youths
Branch Manager Randy Wayland was busy helping visitors as soon as the ribbon was cut. He said his favorite things about the remodeled library are the new sections for children and teens.
“This is the first time we've really had a teens and kids area in this branch,” he said. “Before, they were off in a corner, but now they have their own environment.”
Wayland said those areas are important in keeping libraries relevant to a younger generation.
“Kids are so tech-savvy these days, we need to keep up,” Wayland said. “This is a good way to do that. Libraries are more than just books today. They're computers and Wi-Fi and our new Playaway devices.”
About the project
Southern Oaks was built in 1975. The $2.65 million renovation expanded its size from 16,000 to 20,000 square feet and doubled the number of computers available to visitors to 42. A drive-up book return was added along with renovated restrooms, among other improvements.
The renovation was paid for by a $1.8 million city bond issue passed in 2000. The Metropolitan Library System contributed an additional $850,000.
Since the library had been closed, a temporary branch was opened in the Almonte Shopping Center at 2914 SW 59. Mayor Mick Cornett said that branch will remain open to better serve the library system's patrons.