Sunday, January 11, 2009

Madison Public Library's striking new Sequoya branch now open Sunday afternoons

This is the two-story hearth room in the striking new Sequoya branch of the Madison Public Library (there's a smaller, more intimate reading area on the other side of the fireplace). The branch, located in a new building and expanded from 12,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet, opened in November and had its ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony December 8.

Madison Public Library's Striking New Sequoya BranchNow, thanks to a grant from the Madison Pubic Library Foundation, the branch will be open Sunday afternoons, 1:00-5:00 p.m., through the end of April. I dropped in this afternoon and used the occasion to get a new library card and also to look around the space, notable for its exposed structural components and green design elements.

One of the most notable: The extensive use of Kirei Board, an environmentally friendly wood substitute made from reclaimed sorghum (fireplace wall, boards above the "Ask Here" desk, and other spaces throughout the library). There's also a greywater system that collects water from the roof for toilet flushing, the storage tank of which is visibly tucked in between some bookshelves near the entrance. The lead architect was Joe Huberty of Engberg Anderson.

The Sunday hours, as well as the branch's expanded number of free internet access stations, are coming at a good time. The State Journal reported recently that library usage is increasing in Madison and elsewhere with the downturn in the economy. Partly, it's that people are buying less of their reading material and taking more out of the library. But the computers are another draw, since people need computers to apply for jobs, and there are still many people without computer access.

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