New Library Ready for Opening Day

There's a whole lot of sipping and surfing going on -- and not much shushing -- in today's modern library. And nowhere is the trend more evident than inside Henrico's new gem at 1901 Starling Drive. {{more}}

Opening Oct. 9 at 9 a.m., the new Tuckahoe Library boasts more than twice as many public computers (113) as the old; a cafe serving box lunches and coffee; meeting and conference rooms; an elevator; more than triple the parking space; and (among the staff favorites) spacious seating areas with cushy chairs and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a scenic view.

"We've seen geese, ducks, hawks and heron," says librarian Sue Van Tassel, who has already found a favorite nook for relaxing by the window. "After lunch I come sit here with my book. It was brilliant of [the architects] to keep this whole side so open."

Since the old library closed its doors August 12, staff has has been scrambling to set up everything from shelving to signage and to organize an expanded collection of books, DVDs, audio books, and magazines numbering 183,000.

"It was a very challenging move," says Van Tassel. "Imagine building a new house of 52,000 square feet and having to fill it up and find a place for everything. Plus the amount of technology and new wiring.

"We didn't want to have to close it that long," she says of the shift from the long-outgrown 35-year-old building on Parham Road. "But the reality is it's taken all eight weeks to get ready."

Thanks to amenities such as a meeting room with full kitchen and puppet stage, a conference room seating 16, a 'state of the art computer lab (including laptops available for on-site checkout), Tuckahoe now has the capacity to hold many more classes and special events.

Coming up on the fall schedule are classes in basic computer literacy, Excel, and getting started on the Web, and events that include a Holiday Greens workshop, fencing demonstration, Kamp Kreatures puppet show, environmental book discussion group, and Teen Read Week kick-off featuring ComedySportz.

Using Every Space
Even the employee break room, complete with spacious cooking area and delectable views ("It's like Emeril's kitchen!" Van Tassel likes to say, laughing) doubles as a setting for classes. Cookbook author Debi Shawcross will be the first to hold a book signing and salad tasting in the break room's demonstration kitchen on Nov. 11.

"So we're really using every space," Van Tassel points out.

As the children's librarian, Van Tassel is especially pleased with the separate story time room, which means story hours need no longer compete with adult meetings, and decorations and equipment can be left in place.

As young readers outgrow the children's corner, they can gravitate to another space created especially for them: the young adult area.

But no matter how impressive facts and figures about square footage and technology may look on paper, emphasizes Courtney Melchor, they don't do justice to the building's cheery atmosphere. "The natural light, striking colors, and comfy seating areas throughout" are impossible to appreciate without a visit, insists the library system's community liaison.

As librarian Yvonne Schieberl points out, the overstuffed chairs and "community seating" arrangements lend themselves much better to collaboration, conversation and group study than did the cubicles and study carrels of the old library. Plumping her bench seat in a section of diner-like tables that librarians have dubbed the 'funky seating area," Schieberl exclaims, "These are not like school chairs!"

"And did we mention Lola's Library Caf

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The film “Open Season Scared Silly” (rated PG) will play at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Rd. Tickets are $1 and can be purchased at the door. For details, call 328-4491. Full text

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