UPDATE The New Library -- A Virtual Tour by Barbara Henry

North Coast Journal


The new library - a virtual tour

by Barbara Henry

SIGNS AND FENCES STILL KEEP "UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS" out of the Humboldt County Library construction site on the waterfront near Eureka's Old Town, but there is another way to explore the structure.

Using a little imagination, just follow along on this "virtual tour." Slip on the special headset and the textured gloves -- just like you've seen on TV. In an instant the dust and the rumble of machinery vanish and you see the place as it will be in November when the massive project is complete. Next to you is your guide, head Librarian Judy Klapproth. As you stand in the parking lot, Klapproth points out the slate roof, the redwood siding and the forest-green trim on the three-story structure. You also check out the neighborhood. To the left stands the historic Carson Mansion. To the right beckons the brick-red front of the former Hose Co. No. 4 building, now an antique shop. And right around the corner another historic building housing the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum stands ready to greet its new neighbor. As you walk to the library front doors, you pass two huge pillars, one to each side of you, supporting the wooden ceiling above. Reaching the double glass doors, you glance skyward and see people peering down from second-story windows. They are Friends of the Library members sorting books in a room upstairs, Klapproth tells you.

"(At) a lot of libraries, the Friends get them the library and the library forgets to give them space," she notes. That's not the case here. Pass through the doors and you enter a wide lobby with a lowered ceiling. To your right are the restrooms, to the left a public meeting room with space for 130 people. Meetings can run late into the night because library staff can pull down a metal gate between the lobby and the main part of the library -- shutting the library at closing time, yet keeping the lobby open. Walk straight through the lobby, carpeted as is the rest of the building, in beige tones, and you are heading smack for the main circulation desk. A little beyond that the ceiling soars. Translucent skylights in the roof spill light into the huge open room, which is trimmed with oak molding and beige wallpaper. But what's really impressive is the panoramic view -- the marina, the bay and the Samoa Bridge.

Klapproth points to overstuffed lounge chairs clustered in front of the windows, but you want to continue the exploration.

Young adult books are located near the circulation desk so staff can keep an unobtrusive eye on the teenagers, she tells you. Reference is also nearby. The nonfiction stacks fill most of the remaining space to the left, but there is a nook with a computer and a typewriter, which the public can use for word processing.

Take a few steps forward, past the circulation desk, and you have a choice to make -- to continue walking straight ahead to adult fiction or to turn right at the elevator/stairs and walk through a corridor to the children's section. Looking for a good child's book -- "Good Night Moon" or "The Cat in the Hat"? Klapproth would love to show you to the spot. She is a former children's librarian.

As you turn right for the corridor, note that adult mysteries and science fiction are to one side of the aisle and current magazines and newspapers await readers on the other side.

Also, check out the thank-you plaque listing the more than 2,000 donors who made the library a reality. It's on one wall of the freestanding elevator.

Entering the children's section, you see a tiny room off to your right with a window into what looks like a large closet. That, Klapproth informs you with pride, is the built-in children's puppet theater. Carpeted steps in the room allow the children to rest easy as they watch the show.

The view outside from the children's section is every bit as spectacular as the sight out the adults' section, but the children's ceiling is more interesting. A solar system and a few space ships, created by Lorna Denman's class at Sunny Brae Middle School, hang there. Adding to the cheery nature of the light-green room, giant pillows and a chainsaw-carved gathering of bears welcome the youngsters.

Now, head back down the corridor for a quick trip to the second story. Most of the next floor is open to the first floor now, but could be filled in as the library acquires more books, Klapproth tells you.

Step out of the elevator doors at the second floor, and you are in a small art gallery. The Redwood Art Association is caring for it this year.

From the gallery, the audio/video room and the back issue periodical section you can look down on the people hunting through the first-floor adult stacks.

Want to preview a movie before you see it at home? Try the sound-proofed meeting room in the audio/video area. Up to 40 people can meet to see movies and other productions there.

To your right as you leave the elevator is the Humboldt Room, and you'll surely want to go there, Klapproth says. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Eureka, the room houses the library's extensive North Coast history collection.

It is the only room in the library with redwood shelving; the rest have metal shelves. Redwood beams also cross the room's ceiling just below the skylights. The beautiful wooden tables, once used by the executives of the Bank of Loleta, were donated by U.S. Bank. Out the windows a glorious cloudless day highlights the beauty of the bay.

There might be another reason to visit the second floor. Plans are in the works for a very special room to house the Kris Kelly Resource Center, named for the late director of North Coast Emergency Medical Services who died from cancer at age 42. The resource center, filled with books, medical texts, health magazines, audio and video cassettes, and a computer linked to a national data base, will help the public research and learn about medical and health questions.

Next, Klapproth takes you down a corridor through some administrative offices to another meeting room. This one is intimate, a room for 12 or fewer people. A replica of the President's Table, a redwood slab affair created by Eureka artist Eric Hollenbeck for Camp David, dominates the room.

After visiting that room, you've come to the end of today's tour. Hidden from the public are the staff offices, workrooms and storage space.

Be sure to thank your tour guide as she shows you the way out.

Comments? E-mail the Journal: ncjour@northcoast.com

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