It may be cozy and limited, but the space temporarily occupied by the Key Center Library is still offering many basic services patrons have relied on. The library found a home at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, where a bookmobile is serving as the main digs and the civic center’s VFW Room doubles as the library’s computer space during specific hours.
And even some programming is continuing on — in January, story time will resume for preschoolers on Wednesday and toddlers on Tuesday.
“We have steady customers. Most of them are here to pick up their holds but some like to look at the book collection. It’s mostly new books, including a lot in large print, and holiday materials,” said Rosina Vertz, the manager of the Key Center branch.
In addition to new books, the choices in the bookmobile include movies, both for kids and adults, and a small collection of children’s books. Kids have their own corner with kid-sized benches — the bookmobile was originally designed for children — and that corner is where the story time sessions will resume.
The bookmobile, which is parked near the civic center’s main entrance, also has two computer stations and an outside book drop. The library system is using a dedicated WiFi connection, also available to patrons who want to bring their own laptops to the VFW room during the computer lab hours. The lab has three laptops for the public to use as well, along with a printer and color copier.
“It’s really restricted on what we have to work with but it’s really nice to have,” said Doug Butterfield, a Lakebay resident who comes in regularly. He brings his own laptop to check up on his eBay business, since he lives in an area where he can’t get Internet connection. “This is the only way I can get it and the people here (library staff) are making it work for us,” he said.
The temporary library has reduced hours because of the limited traffic, but holds are dropped off daily by a delivery van and quickly processed by staff on site.
“People really appreciate that we are here. Some say this is like their childhood memory,” Vertz said.
She said the self-pickup system in the bookmobile is good practice for what’s to come — once the library reopens after the remodel, all holds will be self-checkout. “We’re the last branch in the system that doesn’t have self-pickup so it’s long overdue,” Vertz said.
The remodel is proceeding at a rapid pace. On Dec. 19, Pierce County Library announced that the reopening date has been moved to Monday, Feb. 4, almost a month ahead of schedule.
In addition to the self-checkout, one new feature will be a movie “box,” similar to the concept of Redbox. Patrons will pick up empty boxes off the shelf (or from the hold area) and then retrieve the actual DVDs from the kiosk box.
Also new will be a teen area by the young adult book section. The teen space will have a cyberbar and two computers. Two other learning computers will be set up in the kids’ area, for a total of 12 in the entire library (vs. eight previously).
The biggest change will be in the lobby and meeting room area. Part of the meeting room and lobby is being integrated into the library and sliding glass doors will connect to the new meeting room. After hours, the sliding doors will be locked and access will be from a new direct door as well as from the existing door through the health center. The room will have a cyberbar for laptop users (when there are no activities scheduled); from 3 to 6 p.m. the space will be dedicated for teen use.
The meeting room remodel is funded through a fundraiser organized by Friends of the Library. The Friends met the goal of $35,000, largely coming from individual donations as well as some local groups.
Maureen Reilly, president of Friends of Key Center Library, said the first $27,000 was raised in five weeks. She and Carolyn Wiley, coordinators of the fundraiser, tapped into social media, friends, businesses and FOL members. A plaque in the new room will acknowledge the major donors.
Reilly said it’s amazing to have been able to meet the goal since the fundraiser started only in August. “There were a lot of people who said it can’t be done (on the Key Peninsula),” she said. “But I haven’t talked to anybody who wasn’t excited about the opportunity to contribute.”
For the story time schedule that will begin in January, check online at piercecountylibrary.org.
The Kids Explorer Bookmobile, the library’s temporary quarters at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The computer lab hours in the VFW Room are noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The Key Peninsula Civic Center is located at 17010 S. Vaughn Road.