Sunday, July 29, 2001

New library a focal point

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] The library tower faces a fountain and park with a pond, bridges and amphitheater.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        FAIRFIELD — The focal point of the city's village green project, the new Fairfield Branch of the Lane Public Library, looms over the growing development west of City Hall across Pleasant Avenue.

        The bell tower of the red-brick library accents a 2-acre park to its south. The library will be dedicated Sept 1.

        The library owes its existence to a united effort by city and library officials to replace the existing library branch next to city hall with a state-of-the-art facility.

        The library, along with the park and planned community cultural center, will provide a magnet for visitors. It expands and defines the community's central hub.

        “The library project's base cost is $4.87 million, excluding furnishings and library materials,” said Fairfield planning director Tim Bachman. “It has 25,000 square feet of space below vaulted ceilings.

        “The city contributed $3.36 million and the library $1.51 million plus a estimated $250,000 for furnishings and library materials,” he said.

[photo] Fairfield planning director Tim Bachman looks at blueprints for the Lane Public Library on Wessel Avenue.
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        The building is owned and leased by the city with furnishings and materials owned by the library — the same arrangement that exists with the present facility, built in the 1960s.

        Although the Lane Public Library's main branch and administrative offices will remain on Third Street in Hamilton, the new facility “will be our flagship,” said Eugenia Beecher, library public relations director.

        Ms. Beecher said the new building enables the library to expand its collection of 89,000 books and other items by another 100,000. Public computer access will increase from 10 stations to 50.

        A children's library section is funded with a $35,000 gift from Friends of Lane Library and another $10,000 from library coffers. There will be 15 new jobs, Ms. Beecher said.

        The library operates facilities in Hamilton, Fairfield and Oxford, and a bookmobile. There are 800,000 library card holders. The library's total collection exceeds 500,000 books and other materials.

        Fairfield schools — a key user of library facilities — were involved in planning the new facility. Visitors using the main entrance off the parking lot will be greeted by ceramic murals of city buildings created by fourth graders from the city's public, private and parochial schools.

        Mr. Bachman said a shaded outdoor plaza will provide areas for people to read and relax, and also for library events such as storytellers, visits from the Cincinnati Zoo, entertainers and book signings.

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