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Moscow Public Library seeks new look

The Moscow Public Library was built in 1906 and expanded in 1982, but only minor restorations and improvements have been completed in the last 35 years despite the city’s population growth.

So, Latah County Library District Director Chris Sokol said, the library is looking into modernizing its interior and making the existing space more useful and appealing for patrons.

“The difference between 1982 and 2017, that’s quite a bit of difference in aesthetics and what people expect,” Sokol said. “We feel like our library could be more appealing and the space that we have now could be used better.”

Sokol said a consultant was hired to analyze the library and make recommendations on what could be done to improve the library’s space and appeal. She said the consultant will present its findings and suggestions next week to the Latah County Library District Board of Trustees, the Latah County Library Foundation Board, Friends of the Moscow Library and city officials.

Sokol said some of the improvement ideas include repurposing a portion of the existing library space into a small meeting room, lowering the bookshelves’ heights to reduce obstructing views to visitors, improving the children’s and circulation desk areas and providing more plug-ins for laptops.

Sokol said the library does not have a meeting room or a room for programming events. Sometimes events need to be held at the 1912 Center instead of the library, she said.

Sokol said the library hosted a Harry Potter birthday celebration this summer and attracted about 400 people. Sokol said the city has told her the library’s occupancy rate for the main floor is 66 people.

Even on average days the library often gets crowded with visitors lining up to check out books, Sokol said.

Sokol said the consultant told her the library is undersized for Moscow’s population – and the library attracts visitors from all over the Palouse.

Sokol said a larger Moscow library would be ideal but there are not immediate plans to expand the current structure or move to another building. She said she and others involved with the library want to make the space and modernization improvements now as they are about 40 years overdue.

In other library news, Sokol said a seismometer, or an instrument used to measure motions in the ground such as earthquakes, was installed in August in the furnace room of the library’s lower floor. The small blue box is connected to the internet and the public will be able view its readings online in the future, Sokol said.

Sokol said the seismometer registered the earthquake that rattled early last month outside Soda Springs, Idaho.

She said the USGS loaned the seismometer to the library for free and installed the device at no charge. One of the reasons the seismometer was installed at the library was to introduce people to a branch of science they may not be familiar with, Sokol said.