Home Main SLO library: refreshed, renewed, reopened

SLO library: refreshed, renewed, reopened

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Joel Williams, Photo Editor
The downtown San Luis Obispo library is up and running again after undergoing renovations and expansions to the building, last October.

The $843,000 construction to the Palm Street library includes a new teen section, a third floor public wing exclusively for nonfiction books and a twice as large children’s section.

Upon entering the library, the walls of the atrium are covered by a wonderful mural by Robert Majas painted in 2013 titled, “Movimiento Mundial”, which translates to world movement. The mural depicts colorful vignettes of people working, playing music, all among scenes of nature.

While the mural wasn’t a part of the update to the library, those renovations have significantly improved the visibility and recognition of the mural, according to library director Christopher Barnickel.

The building is now 1,800 square feet larger and gives more breathing room for the library. Among other things, the elevator system has been improved and more natural light fills the library, adding to the more spacious feel.

The library offers desktop computers on the first floor along with Chromebook laptops which can be used in house, although the library is hoping to have an option to check out laptops in the future. The library also offers more than just books with a large selection of dvds, blu-rays, cds and video games that can all be checked out.  

The new teen area features a separate reading space complete with bean bag chairs and foosball tables. The children’s area expansion has allowed room for computer workstations and a storytime room.

Other improvements to the building include having a much more efficient book sorting system, which allows books to move significantly less and costs much less time. This keeps the third floor as an area kept open to the public, along with reference and nonfiction being stored there instead of having the sorting happening there.

Library Director Christopher Barnickel isn’t what you would expect. He seems to buck typical library stereotypes by not only being a man who’s only hit 40, but also in the way that he wants to run the library by making it look and feel different,

“It’s that balance between creating something that’s timeless and traditional, and something that pops that makes you say wow,” Barnickel said. The design of the building is something Barnickel spent a lot of time and effort on to make just right.

There’s a new theme at the library which makes each public section of the library clearly labeled with boldly painted orange letters. This theme carries consistently through the entire library all the way from the lobby to each elevator

Barnickel also addressed the library’s concerns of their lowest demographic, college students. Barnickel recognizes the fact that many college students don’t have the time or interest to spend much time at a public library.

“You’ve got a job and you’re finding other things out in your life, the library isn’t high on your priorities.” Barnickel said.

SLO MakerSpace is a local company dedicated to tinkering and building with availability to state of the art laser mills, CNC machines and 3D printers to help create a near infinite amount of items that the company can assist patrons in creating.

By having a SLO County Library card, anyone is allowed 15 hours of free access to SLO MakerSpace that would otherwise come at a membership cost.
While students’ thoughts are mixed, it’s certain that the library offers many new things that can appeal to bookworms and media lovers alike.