IN THIS age of fast food, even libraries are starting to get into the act.
The new Northwest Branch Library on Keewatin Street has added an unusual feature to their building – a drive-through window.
Northwest Branch opened its doors for the first time on Feb. 18. A grand opening and tree-planting ceremony will be held in May or June.
“We figure we’re going to hear a lot of ‘would you like fries with that?’” laughed library relations coordinator Heather Graham. “It’s a huge convenience for families on the go and people with disabilities, who don’t have to worry about getting in and out of their vehicle. As far as we know, it’s the first of its kind in Canada.”
The drive-through window isn’t the only thing that sets this new library apart.
“We’re trying to be responsible for what the community itself needs, instead of being a rubber stamp of what happens in another branch,” said Graham. “We’re trying to be innovative and flexible in what we provide.”
Multi-lingual material will be provided to those who request it.
“They’ll be an attempt to provide materials in languages relevant to the community,” Graham said, adding the library already has a full natives studies collection.
The library will also be a computer addict’s dream.
“If you bring in a lap-top and modem, and you have your own Internet account, you can hook up here,” she said. Many of the personal computers on hand also have Internet access, and extensive CD ROM networks are available.
“This is something the community will really be proud of,” said Rick Walker, area head for the north district. “It’s a wonderful new facility for the entire community.”
Every effort has been made to ensure every reader’s comfort.
“Our shelves are considerably lower than in most branches, and that is a benefit not only to someone in a wheelchair, but those who have other physical limitations,” said Graham.
The aisles are wider for easier wheelchair access, and the library offers a self-serve check-out unit.
“In some branches, there’s been a problem with parking, but we have space for 50 vehicles,” said Graham. “Groups in the community can display their artwork on our community art wall.”
The library was built on over two acres of land that will be landscaped like a park in the spring.
“The park is going to be a really nice feature,” Graham said, “with trees and nice lighting. It will be a nice, safe walkway.”
On-line catalogue Other available services include an on-line catalogue, large print and audio books for the blind, an automatic door, and a 90-person meeting room with Internet hookup.
Walker is very enthusiastic about the new building, which will be replacing both the Brooklands and McPhillips branches.
“As a department, we’re very proud of it,” he said. “Every time we build a library, we learn a little bit more.”