Though a library’s goal of providing open access to resources and information remains unchanged today, the ways in which information is given and received is constantly changing. You can see this firsthand at the Sandpoint Library as the staff works toward finalizing the yearlong expansion. After breaking ground in July of 2017, construction is now all but complete and the finishing touches, additional furniture and bookshelves are on track to be fully installed by early October.
If you step into the library expecting rows upon rows of books and utter silence, you will soon find out that is not the case. There are still plenty of books and newspapers to read and check out as well as rooms for kids, teens, learning, Internet and an entirely updated department focused on emerging technology.
“This new department will manage 3D printing, virtual reality, drones and any other technology services we offer,” said Marcy Timblin, public relations director.
3D printing classes are already running monthly at both Sandpoint and Clark Fork locations, and new courses will be appearing on other advanced technologies in the near future. Increasing Internet speeds and giving all community members access to knowledge of emerging technology is something the library district sees as vital.
“We don't jump on every new technology, but we think it is important for people to be able to tinker with and utilize technology that has the potential of becoming mainstream, regardless of their financial, social or education status,” said Timblin. With the technology now in house, the library is hoping to partner with local companies to expose people to tech skills that will help them qualify for jobs in burgeoning industries.
While the new emerging technology department might offer some of the most unique information in the library, many other areas of the expansion project are helping streamline and facilitate the ever-changing needs of visitors. Meeting rooms are now larger than before and each has presentation technology. These rooms can be reserved during business hours, and soon there will likely be afterhours access for groups to hold evening meetings.
Getting kids excited about reading and opening their imagination has always been a primary goal of the library, and the newly expanded children’s section hopes to accomplish just that. The remodel includes a bigger space and forest theme and features for kids to explore and read on. Story time is a popular event at the library and it will now be held in a glass enclosed area to help keep some of the noise and excitement contained.
Young adults will find an expanded selection of teen and pre-teen focused books available for check out. There is also more seating for those who wish to read at the library and additional power outlets to accommodate devices.
Those who have used the library computers will now find them all upstairs adjacent to a new IT help desk. The computers are still being installed, and more furniture for the area is also on the way. There will also be a section here to hold computer classes and 3D-printing workshops.
Timblin is excited for all of the updates and hopes the community will be just as excited once everything is completed. “All of the changes we have made are intertwined together, impacting different patrons in so many different ways,” she said. “We can't be all things to all people, but if there is a prominent need in our community, we support and partner with other organizations to address it while making sure not to duplicate efforts.”
The Sandpoint Library is so much more than books on a shelf, in fact, the Sandpoint branch checks out just as many DVDs as it does books, all of which are at no cost. Library computers are equipped with desktop publishing, video editing and word-processing software and Imagine Academy which offers free online courses in Microsoft applications such as Word, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint and advanced technology coursework with a certification option. You can check out everything you need to try out Frisbee Golf, or utilize the seed library in which you borrow seeds to plant, and after growing your vegetables return a few of those new seeds back to the library.
Tutoring programs are geared to help anyone, a new fireplace provides a cozy reading spot on cold winter days and an outdoor Quonset hut and community educational and art garden will provide another unique setting.
While the library battles misconceptions as a stuffy, quiet place, or that it’s too advanced and no longer a place to read and relax, Timblin says the invitation is open to all in the community, and you might be surprised at what you find through the doors.
“If you haven't been to the library in recent years, you wouldn't know that it is now a place where people in the community connect. It is where many new parents and residents make friends and learn about their community,” she said.
Whether you’re looking to experience virtual reality or learn to fly a drone, or if you prefer reading hard copies of Dickens’ classics, you’ll find both in the newly expanded library where access to information and resources will always be first and foremost.