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LOFTY NEW LIBRARY WILL TAKE CHILDREN TO NEW HEIGHTS

SHARE LOFTY NEW LIBRARY WILL TAKE CHILDREN TO NEW HEIGHTS

It won't be just the stories at the Orem Children's Library that will take children soaring. The lofty ceilings, expansive, creative architecture and grand amounts of natural lighting will provide trips of the mind as well.

"I don't think you ever waste space on beauty," Dick Beeson, director of library services, said as he showed off the newly completed 36,000-square-foot building that more than doubles library space for Orem.The library debuts for the public Saturday, Aug. 26, from 10 a.m. to noon with a ribbon cutting. Youngsters are invited to bring a pair of blunt-nosed scissors and help dedicate their new place.

"We've had a little bit of question about the high ceilings, why we `wasted' so much space on them," said Beeson. "But I don't think you waste space on beauty or children, and we wanted to preserve a sense of wonder for them.

"Here, anywhere they look, it's a new experience."

He isn't kidding, either. They might look at the colorful, stained glass art at the east end, artwork made of 5,000 pieces of painted glass on 48 panels making up 36 feet of magic created by artist Ralph Barksdale and painstakingly put together by Tom and Gayle Holdman.

They may want to check out the Timpanogos storytelling wing, complete with a marionette/puppet stage crafted of gold leaf and wood. Funds raised by Friends of the Library through their storytelling event have paid $1.2 million of the cost of the $4 million building. Last year and this year, the proceeds are paying for new and more books. Private donors have provided the stained glass and the puppet stage.

Children can look up to see skylights high above their heads while the stacks that contain thousands and thousands of glossy new books are eye-level to a child.

They can see "trees" (ceiling supports painted green), modular carpeting chosen to look like a forest floor and "pine-cone" lights.

There are gardens just outside the doors, window seats to perch upon in the sunlight, a gas log fireplace at the end of the room and paintings on the walls.

And books, literally thousands of books, set out to invite and enchant the most resistant reader.

"A building is not a library," said Beeson. "The collection is the library."

That collection is mighty, from 10,000 videos and 10,000 CDs to hundreds of audio books and sound effects, along with a collection of books that is ranked among the best in the state.

With over a million items checked out each year, the collection quickly becomes "loved to death," said Beeson. Replacement and constant upgrading is essential.

He expects usage to climb 30 to 60 percent once the public discovers the new facilities and opportunities.

"You think this place is gigantic?" said children's librarian Janet Low. "We've already filled it up! It takes an enormous amount of space to house a collection."

Low says the library exists today largely because the community strongly supports a quality library. "Support makes it happen," she said.

Parents in Orem have already opened the door to their children's minds by introducing books, said Beeson and Low. "Now we can give them this, a playground of the mind."

Storytelling starts next week at 10:30 each morning.