The first thing a visitor notices about the redesigned Cheshire Public Library is how the main floor is now light-filled and sunny. Shorter book shelves near the large front windows allow plenty of natural light into the room. A rearrangement of the shelves provides a sitting area next to the windows where coffee will soon be available for purchase.
Near the main desk, two new self-checkout kiosks allow patrons to scan in barcodes for the items they want to borrow. "It's great. You can take control of checking out your books. I love that they're using new technology," said Carol Vetto of Cheshire. "It frees up the librarians to do other things," she added.
Votto said her two children, nine and 11 years old, have already used the self-check out system. "They like it because they can do it themselves," she said.
The biggest change, both architecturally and programmatically, is the new teen room. The long, windowed room which runs along the front wall of the library provides a separation from the children's library space, said Teen Librarian Kelly Gile. That gives families with younger children a quieter place to read and use computers, she said.
Libraries are becoming "community living rooms," Gile said, and therefore must adapt to the public's need. "(Teens) are not traditional library users, they come to be here," as a destination, she said. Circulation figures for teen items in Cheshire are the same as libraries that are three or four times its size Gile added.
The teen room, however, will have other uses. It's configured a a multi-purpose room that can be turned into a children's area in the mornings when teens aren't around. "It's designed for the little kids' story time. Furniture is movable and foldable," Gile said.
Cheshire High School student Meaghan Carroll and her sister Colleen were choosing books in the new teen room on Wednesday. "It's very eye appealing. It's nice to have a separate space," said Meaghan Carroll. "It's one big library, not a bunch of doors (to study halls) said Colleen Carroll.
Library staff members said they've been very busy since the library reopened on Monday after being closed for two weeks for renovations. "People seem to love the self check-out, especially the kids," said one staff member. "It's very impowering for them. They remember their library cards more often," another employee said.
Throughout the main floor, new carpeting gives the area a fresh, modern look with minimal cost. The Cheshire Town Council on June 12 approved an additional $35,000 for the carpeting which hadn't been replaced in nearly 20 years. The total library project cost was $160,000.
While most of the renovation work is complete, small projects are still underway, said Gile. The final tasks will be finished by the end of the summer, she said.