MARCH 16, 2012 -- With twice the space and a new philosophy for meeting the needs of the community, the new Spencer Road Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District has reinvented itself as far more than a traditional library.
The library, located at 427 Spencer Road, St. Peters, Mo., 63376, opens Wednesday, March 21. It features meeting spaces, comfortable chairs, work stations, outlets for laptops and devices, beverage stations and even a fireplace, patio and babbling water feature. The 54,700-square-foot Spencer Road Branch is a marked improvement from the 22,440-square-foot metal building that once stood in its place.
"We are not expanding the materials collection the branch," said Jim Brown, St. Charles City-County library director. "We are providing more 'people and activity' space rather than shelving. As libraries evolve in the 21st century and more materials are in downloadable format, the format of the collection we offer to library customers is changing. Libraries are becoming more of that 'third space' where communities can gather, interact, create, and conduct their lives and work."
Families can enjoy a large children's room, featuring public access computers, special seating, study niches, a youth programming room just for children's programs, and an outdoor patio for events. Teens also have their own area with study tables, seating, access to electric outlets and a special collection of materials.
All visitors can take advantage of informal meeting space, and tables and chairs throughout the library. On the second floor of the library, groups can reserve small study rooms and conference rooms in the Houck Business and Professional Center. Nonprofit organizations can reserve rooms for free, and for-profits are charged $12.50 per hour.
A technology center is also on the second floor, and library patrons can reserve a computer or bring their own laptop to use the library's wireless internet connection. Throughout the library, 61 public access computers are available. A separate computer training room allows the library district to offer a variety of technology classes.
The library's Community Commons is housed in the north half of the second floor. This part of the building is managed by the Community Council, and provides a large event room that can seat 500 people and three conference rooms.
Other notable amenities include a drive-through for picking up reserved materials and returning materials, a silent room for quiet study and reading, family bathrooms on both floors, and geriatric chairs in the reading room.
"If you haven't been to the library in awhile, you need to come back," said Maggie Preiss, who handles children's resources and marketing for the library district.
The library opens at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21. At 7 p.m. April Henry will discuss her young adult novel "Girl, Stolen," and her upcoming novel, "The Night She Disappeared." Henry is a New York Times bestselling author and the 2012 Truman Award-Nominee.
The Spencer Road Branch cost almost $6,254,000 to construct. The building was paid for out of the library district's operating revenue, and no debt was incurred, Brown said. Several amenities within the library were paid for by funds raised by the St. Charles City-County Library Foundation.
Pictured Top: The Spencer Road Branch opens March 21. Mid-Top: Near the children's area, public acccess computers are loaded with special educational software for kids. Center: The teen area has comfortable chairs and materials of special interest to the age group. Mid-Bottom: A water feature greets patrons as they enter the library. Bottom: Publis access computers and work stations are located in the library's technology center.