In downtown Mt. Kisco, the old library quaintly occupied its space on Main Street and always served as a center for knowledge and community initiative. The New library will definitely not lose its place in that regard with numerous modern upgrades enhancing what's always been. Quaint will also be replaced with some much needed breathing space - and not just for people.
With a capacity to hold 30,000 items, says library director Susan Riley, "We had 72,000," but out with the old, starts by befitting an entrance that is more conducive to the intellectual hub and community vantage point that alibrary should aspire. Glass encased, she says, "That entry way is two stories high and it's going to be nice and bright."
It will also provide a transition into the library that separates the entering traffic from those going about the business of study and scholarship. "It will actually prevent a lot of the noise because people stomp their feet and finish their cell phone conversations," says Ms. Riley of all the incoming activity.
That silencing effect will extend most significantly to the new reading room when the library opens in June. From community feedback, the most vocalized request was to set aside a room specifically for study. No talking, no cell phones and no computers, she says, "The new reading room will be a silent room."
In contrast, the new library also will have it covered in terms of what to do with teenagers who naturally descend on any environment with decibel levels set on high. That especially is true as the end of the school day unleashes them along with all their pent up energy and accumulated hunger pains. "It's been a real problem," says the director, "so a room has been set aside just for the teens."
"What do you call it," she asks, "edutainment,” as the teen room will allow students to mix the social with their school work. Of course, conventional enclosures don't always do the trick when it comes to teens. "It's more sound proofed, and that's a good thing," she says.
Also encased in glass, librarians can maintain a visual control that gives them their space and hopefully acts as a draw to get more teens into the library - especially since they don't have to share it with the little kids. On the other hand, the library has a second floor children's room that's almost akin to a deck. There, parents might sip coffee, and the Mt. Kisco Library will be able to offer more in the way of storytelling, educational presentations and an arts and crafts program.
As a result, a personnel upgrade will match what the new library infrastructure can now offer. With currently only one person to handle everyone under 18, says Ms. Riley, "It's just not adequate quite honestly so we're going to be adding a few part time assistants."
Of course, the library will continue to serve a senior community that is very vibrant and engaged. The three book discussion groups will be back, as will Internet usage classes and they hope to increase the number of large print materials. In addition, the new facility will be 100% handicapped accessible, and for the many seniors seeking travel materials for trips abroad or at home, the library is ready to helpas usual.
In return or upon return, the new community room will help bring home what was lost when the Northern Westchester Center of the Arts closed a few years ago. With the inquiries already flowing in, the larger area can seat 100 and has a new sound and video system in which performances, readings and poetry slams and jams will fill the space and time slots. "This will be more of a hub for the arts because it's something that sorely needed in the area," she says.
Back on the book end of actually serving those in search of material, circulation, reference and offices are centralized with appropriate lines of sight. "We'll be able to have better visual control," she says, and that facilitates all the interaction between staff and patrons.
Otherwise, if patrons want to operate independently of staff and such, the library will now have a small meeting room available to anyone who would like to rent it out. Thinking even smaller, two study rooms holding one or two people will be available at one hour intervals.
Adding to the aesthetics, a ride in the glass elevator will provide a look that’s almost as appealing as the front view of downtown Mt. Kisco. “We’re talking about doing a mural on the exterior of the elevators – maybe Chief Kisco or several literary figures,” she says.
And the library will fulfill its role as a center for responsible community consciousness by not just continuing to provide balanced political, social and cultural discussion but in also taking an active part in environmental sustainability. “Everything is more efficient,” she says mostly in reference to the geothermal heating and cooling system.
Twenty nine wells have been dug to a level at which the ground and the water temperature is a constant 55 degrees. That water, with an antifreeze type material, is then pumped above, giving the building a starting temperature of the same degrees. “So it’s much less work for a heating and cooling system,” she says.
That’s certainly a plus in these tough economic times and community support to the library in terms of dollars and cents has not been immune in this climate. “They are not giving as much as we hoped,” she says, but as the building progresses on Main Street, Ms. Riley is hopeful that will change.
In the end, she is confident that the bigger and better library will have the same impact on the town of Mt. Kisco. Centralized between Borders, the movie theater and a host of area businesses and restaurants, “They make it a destination,” she says, which can act as a jumping point to everything else, she concludes.