Downtown Library Grand Re-Opening

The Central Library in downtown Houston is finally ready to open its doors again tomorrow, after a two-year $17 million dollar renovation and upgrading. It's going to be a noisy grand "re-opening", as Jim Bell reports.
Central Library Manager Mike VanCampen will join the Mayor and other city officials to literally turn the page on a nine-foot tall book to symbolize the beginning of a new era for the library. VanCampen says taxpayers got a lot for their 17 million dollars, starting with a dramatic increase in modern technology.

"One of the problems with the building was, it was 31 years old, and 31 years ago nobody realized the role that computers would play in our lives and in libraries. So one thing people will notice right away is we've got over 200 computers in the building for the public to use."

VanCampen says the building infrastructure has been upgraded to accommodate the new technologies, including WI-FI, and bring the library into the 21st century. The book collection is reorganized so books are easier to find. They used to be organized by subject, but not any more.

"All the books are in numerical order, so that a customer can get a number and just follow the order and find the books directly without having to consult with a staff member."

VanCampen says along with bright new paint and new furnishings, there's a coffee shop, the latest in gaming equipment, gallery space for artists, and there are plans for a gift shop. The grand reopening ceremony will be at 10 tomorrow morning, and the celebration goes all weekend in the plaza around the library.

"We're gonna have music, puppets, dance troups, there'll be food, games, crafts, and then we're also continuing it on Sunday from one till five."

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.