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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 19, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta District The Lethbridge Herald Local news Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Friday, October 19, 1973 Pages 15-28 New world of library services awaiting city It was just a matter of deciding all the things the library should offer, then telling the architects to design the structure accordingly. And it worked, says librarian George Dew. He calls the design "one of the most exciting" in Canada. By MURDOCH MACLEOD Herald Staff Writer "We could not possibly be excused for putting up a bad building or an in- effective says Lethbridge chief librarian George Dew. "We've had so long to think about it." The copper-roofed, concrete-faced structure now building on the old Central School site at 9th St. and 5th Ave. S. is to open early in 1974. When it does open, coffee-sipping browsers, local history scholars, specific-answer seekers, general in- terest readers, music lovers, and science fiends will all find a much wider range of facilities and services than has been available in the old Lethbridge Public Library. "I think we have one of the most ex- citing library designs in the says Mr. Dew. The building was designed on the basis of library needs, says Mr. Dew. "We asked ourselves 'What are we supposed to be instead of remaining with the traditional concepts of library he adds, "Then we sat down with the architect and told him what we wanted. He designed a building to give us that." Extensive planning was carried out for a combined library Yates Memorial Centre complex, but the proposal was defeated by nearly 4 to 1 in a 1964 money bylaw referendum. Consultants In 1971 a team of library consultants examined the city's library needs and the old Lethbridge public library building. Many of their recommen- dations were included in the design of the new library. The central library is a modular structure, with six modules each 45 feet square. The two storeys give a total area of square feet and the large site area gives a 100 per cent expansion factor. Any necessary expansion will be out- wards, rather than upwards, says the librarian, so it will not disrupt service or impair efficiency. Just add modules at the edge. The building's exterior will be faced in concrete with plenty of windows, and the sloped, flattened copper roof will weather to a bronze color, not the sick- ly green that overtakes many aging copper roofs, he promises. The library floor plan resembles an arrowhead, pointing northwest. If a row of three squares (or modules) were drawn with a row of two below, flushed right, and a single square below that, also flushed right, the finished sketch would resemble a top view of the library. Broad steps and a ramp for wheelchairs lead up to the doors at the north side of the building. The user entering the library first encounters the main circulation desk. The desk, for those who drew those squares, is in the right square of the middle row. Books are charged out or returned, library cards are issued and replaced, and readers' inquiries answered. Most of the housekeeping chores of librarianship are done here. But the traditional sign commanding silence is missing. Conversation around the desk can be carried on in normal tones, although quiet increases as the user moves across the library, the study being the quietest part. Shelf arrangement and specialization roughly parallel the noise profile. The quietest part, the study, is farthest from the main desk and houses the special collection. The shelves themselves are not the old skyscraper models. Except for areas covered by secondary desks, the library will be in sight of the main cir- culation station, says Mr. Dew. This, he says, will allow maximum use and staff economy, and increase security. "We want people to feel com- fortable and at home in the he says, but he is concerned about security. Book losses Book losses have always been a problem in every library, he adds, with serious readers being the worst offenders. "It's people who really need books who take he says. "Or who smuggle out reference books and are a bit embarrassed to return them." As the user faces the desk, the children's section is behind him in the bottom square on the diagram, separated from the main part of the library by a glass partition. The section has child-sized shelves and comfortable, child-sized furniture. There is a librarian in the children's section with the time to help young readers find what they want. Her former "housekeeping" chores have Drawing by Robins. Mitchell, Watson architects Design based on six modules The new public library is beginning to look more like something everyday. Situated just west of the Family Y building across 9th Street S., passers-by have seen it go from a great, gap- ing hole in the ground to a mass of concrete and copper. And it has much further to go. It's floor plan, shown above, is based on six modules. Below, the crowded library now in operation is contrasted with the open space already evident in the current stage of the new structure. been taken over by the main desk. To the left of the desk is the popular reading section, in the left square of the middle row. It is a bit quieter than the desk area. A coffee machine may be installed in the popular section, and smoking may be allowed, says Mr. Dew, but the library board has not made a final deci- sion on the matter. Browsers can relax in comfortable armchairs on two sides of the square. Popular reading includes not only fic- tion, but also widely-read non-fiction. Sports, travel and crime, to name only three categories, are found in fiction and non-fiction in this section. Adjacent to this popular section, in the middle square of the top row. is the information section. Information con- tains pure and applied science material, as well as handbooks, dic- tionaries, and encyclopedias. A "readers' adviser." or reference librarian, is on hand to help those who cannot find what they want. South of the information section, in the top left square, is the upper level study. The study is continued in the same module on the lower floor. The audio visual section is on the other side of information, in the top right module. The strictly quiet study has well-lit carrels along the walls. The books here are the most specialized in the library. The lower study houses the Senator Buchanan collection in a room of its own. Sen. W. A. Buchanan, publisher of The Herald for 49 vears. made the public library a gift of a small collec- tion of books on government and history. The Buchanan collection has been expanded to include a wide range of Alberta and local history. Mr. Dew says entry to the Buchanan collection is restricted to bona fide students, but adds "they can establish their bona fides any way they please." The rest of the study area is open to the public, although it is intended for students. A student, says the librarian, is anyone who reads seriously for educational or research purposes, as opposed to recreational reading. A udio-visual The audio visual department of the new library has a glassed-in work area for library staff, where turntables and controls are located. After selecting records from the shelves, the user signs for them at the audio-visual desk, and also signs for a headset if he wants to listen in the library. The listener sits in a comfortable chair, plugged in to one of three listen- ing consoles, as his selection revoles on the equivalent turntable. One of the turntables may later include tape as well as disc capability, says the librarian. A movie previewing machine is kept at the desk, although Mr. Dew says most users of the library film collec- tion are familiar with the catalogue. The film preview has a projector mounted at right angles to a box which looks something like a television set. The box has a mirror inside and a ground glass screen on which the film is projected. Beneath the children's library, reached by stairs located near the main circulation desk, is a multi-purpose auditorium. It has a ceiling-mounted movie screen and an area which can ac- commodate a portable stage. With no fixed stage or chairs, the room can hold almost any sort of program. Mr. Dew says, including theatre in the round. Always busy "It should not be empty more than one or two nights a he adds. Except for the lower study and the auditorium, the lower level is taken up by service, staff, and technical areas. Technical and service areas take up the middle and right modules of the top row. and the right module of the middle row. Staff areas and the board room are in the left module of the middle row. The board room and the auditorium will be rentable at a reasonable fee. says Mr. Dew. anticipating a wide range of programs for adults and children of all ages. Space for these was an important criterion in the design of the new- library. Mr. Dew says the library should be a community service centre and an educational support facility. He com- pares the role of the library in educa- tion to that of a woman in a dance, who can improve the performance of the team but is not allowed to lead. "The library must begin to he says. He adds that any group or club without a home of its own should use the library. "There is no reason why we shouldn't have the largest collection of books on any he says. "For example, the local chess group probably has a few books on chess, but we should have more." "There is no reason why we should not collaborate with the Mr. Dew concludes, 'And bring exten- sion programs or extramural courses to the people." The librarian says there is practical- ly no group that could not be used as an educational resource in library programs, especially for children. The police, tor example, already reach children of various ages through the schools to discuss traffic safety, drug abuse and crime prevention. Library programs will be run by a qualified professional, says Mr. Dew. The position to be filled by this person has been left vacant since last September because "a person of the re- quired spirit would have left in disgust if he was forced to work in this (the old library) building." One example of a good library program, according to Mr. Dew. would be a course on films. He adds that he has already had some discussions with a National Film Board representative on a film course for children. Not just showings of films, but instruction in direction, camera work, and produc- tion could be offered if the course is held, he says. The present audio-visual department is "bloody ludicrous." tucked away in the back of the library in the space of a large suburban kitchen. There is one record turntable, on a shelf beside the back door. A person listening to a record on it would stand a fair chance of being struck by the door if anyone walked in. Film facilities The old library's film projection facilities are far too small. The movie previewer is hard by the filmstrip shelves, so that a viewer would be in the way of others moving about the audio-visual department. A miniature viewing room might hold five people. The record collection itself cannot be expanded for lack of space, so budgets until now have allowed only for replacement of broken or worn-out records, most of which are monophonic. "We'll have to spend or in here fairly quickly when we get into the new building, says Mr. Dew- To help Lethbridge readers find what they want in the new library, library staff are preparing an improved catalogue. The old "dictionary catalogue" lists all books under authors, titles, and sub- jects alphabetically. Any book in the library is listed in three places, ac- cording to rules made by the American Library Association. Mr. Dew says the rules were clear to librarians but not always to readers. The new "classified catalogue" lists all books under all possible subject headings and directs readers to a Dewey system number. The number file lists titles of all books the library has on a given subject, under the appropriate numbers. Pink cards PinK cards list BOOKS that could occur in more than one place, such as anthologies and books treating more than one subject. For example, says Mr. Dew. when he first came to Lethbridge. the catalogue subject entry for "sugar beets" directed the reader to see "beets, sugar." and the entry for "beets, sugar" directed the reader to "sugar beets Thprp wprp no book? on just that topic. A book on root crops might have con- tained information on sugar beets, but a reader would have no way of telling from the subject catalogue. The new catalogue should list a book on root crops containing sugar beet in- formation under all possible subject headings including those of sugar beets. The sugar beet entries would be on pink cards and the main entry on a white card, but would lead to the same book. The number index would have all books on this and similar topics together. A reader seeking books on espionage in the old catalogue must check both "espionage" and "spies." Some books are listed under both topics, but "spies" leans generally to thrilling adventures and "Espionage" to histories and technical works. The new catalogue's subject index directs the reader to Dewey number 355-3432 from "espionage." "military intelligence." "intelligence." "spies" and so on. The number index lists titles under all these headings in one spot. Construction of the new library marks the end of the long struggle for belter library service in Lethbridge. The present public library in Gait Gardens has long been considered in- adequate by many people, including Mr. Dew. Last year city council voted S995.000 for the new library and provided for furniture But furniture is expected to cost and the library board expected to come up with the remainder A campnign is being launched to have the needed money provided by public contributions ;