A look at where you’ll read a book

The sounds of screeching saws filled the future Coeur d’Alene Public Library on Friday as Bette Ammon walked through. Wooden shelves, table saws, cardboard boxes and spools of wire littered the cement floors, creating an obstacle course for would-be tour guides.

“We learned a valuable lesson,” the library director said. “Pay attention to your gawking and walking – it’s still a construction site.”

By this fall, the obstacles will be gone and bookshelves, study tables, chairs and computers will stand in their place. The library is scheduled to open Sept. 10, much to the delight of city and library officials and, they hope, the public.

“We’re going to have the best library in the state,” Ammon said. “People will flock here.”

The opening date comes later than the original opening, slated for the end of this month.

The $6.6 million budget still stands, though City Project Manager Renata McLeod said she plans to ask the city for additional funds at a July 23 meeting. She expects to ask for about $75,000 or $80,000 – a budget increase of about 1.3 percent, she said.

“Construction projects are notorious for 3 to 5 percent,” McLeod said.

The 38,500-square-foot building will boast a slew of amenities the old cramped library couldn’t come close to matching, such as community meeting space, study rooms and presentation areas.

The children’s area will be much larger and will boast an animal theme, complete with bear-print carpet and a stained-glass window featuring an eagle. Back windows and an outside balcony give views of Tubbs Hills, McEuen Field and Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Library staff will have work space for the first time, and an enclosed computer lab will allow computer training when the library’s open. Training currently takes place at the old building before the library opens to keep the noise level down and the nine computers available to library patrons.

The new building will host 60 computers.

“It’s a quantum leap,” Ammon said.

Ammon recalled the first time library staff saw the inside of the new building.

“There were staff in tears,” she said. “Just the whole reality seemed surreal for them.”

It’s the first Coeur d’Alene library that was built for that purpose – the city bought the Harrison Avenue building and designed the library to fit inside it.

The building’s design fits its location, McLeod said, by providing gorgeous park and lake views. The outside area will have wireless Internet access and plenty of benches.

“There will be a lot of space to sit and enjoy this location,” McLeod said.

The original financing plan for the library calls for $1 million to come from the sale of the old library on Harrison Avenue.

That’s still on the table, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem said, but alternatives will also be considered. How the city would come up with $1 million if the old library isn’t sold will be part of the discussion, she said.


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