When the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library opens to the public on June 16, it will be a welcoming hub for all members of the Arlington community. The new library is designed to meet the technological and educational needs of a vibrant, modern society. With three levels, 80,000 square feet of community spaces, meeting rooms, computers, rooftop gardens, and of course books, there will be something for everyone. The library’s first floor offers a friendly welcome to this unique space.
Visitors are welcomed into the library through the Ruthie Brock and Allan Saxe Lobby, but this two-story, window-lined space is more than simply an entrance. Enjoy Wi-fi access in a dedicated lounge, or in benches and open seating throughout the lobby. An express computer stations offers fast Internet access to patrons who need to get online immediately. Stop by the lobby’s vending machines or occasional pop-up shops from local restaurants for a quick bite to enjoy outdoors.
The lobby also houses several sustainability resources for the community, which are sponsored by a grant from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. Shop for recycled, sustainable, and renewable library gear at the Sustainability Shop, which will be open in the lobby whenever the library is open. Community recycling bins and a seed library are also available in the lobby.
After enjoying the lobby’s geometric light fixtures or people-watching through the street-level view of Center Street, explore the rest of the first floor.
The Otis and Rosie Brown Living Room will be the bustling heart of the library. Browse new books and large print on the first floor, then check out books and other items at self-service stations. The Downtown Library’s book return will use an automatic book sorter, visible through a wall of windows, so patrons can see their books being checked in. A fully-staffed Help Desk is ready to answer any questions about finding items or using the library.
The Living Room highlights two of the building’s most distinctive architectural features: the Baylor Scott and White Staircase, which leads to all three stories of the building, and the DISCOVER wall, an interactive art installation leading to spaces for children.
Climb through the DISCOVER Wall’s tunnels, sit in its cozy reading nooks, and then explore the rest of the children’s area beyond the wall. The Children’s Book Neighborhood is designed for all children, infants through “tween-agers”, and their families or caregivers. A wall of windows at the south side of the building provides natural light and a view of trees and plants to this bright, colorful space.
Children will grow up reading in the Downtown Library, starting with picture books arranged by themes and working their way towards first readers, chapter books, and non-fiction items. Since children learn through play, this space also offers lots of toys, games, lifesize blocks, and other ways to play. From developmentally appropriate toys for babies and toddlers to collaborative gaming systems for older children, there is something for every child. Parenting books are available to help families support their children’s growth.
Like every level of the Downtown Library, the first floor includes special meeting spaces and study rooms, each one named to inspire its users. The [re]Brary Room opens off the lobby and will be available to rent. This conference space includes projectors and other technology for presentations. The room can be divided in two for smaller functions and also includes a catering kitchen. Children can use the Kindness study room to work on school or personal projects. The Play Room, which is lit by a wall of floor to ceiling stained glass windows, is a fun place to enjoy storytimes and other library events.
There is a lot to explore in just the first floor of the Downtown Library! Discover it in person when the building opens to the public on June 16, or afterward during normal business hours.