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Library Week kicks off with Mason Square's re-opening

Date: 4/11/2011

April 11, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — After a long process to restore a full service library to Mason Square, the City Library will make the re-opening of the branch one of its featured activities as part of National Library Week this week.

The branch library will officially re-open with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on April 13 with Mayor Domenic Sarno and former Mayor Charles Ryan, who is the president of the Library Foundation, the non-profit organization that authorized the funding that helped make the re-opening possible.

The ribbon-cutting will commence three days of events at the new branch, which will include tours and library resource demonstrations, scavenger hunts, book raffles for teens and adults, performances from local school groups, crafts, a book talk, teen writing programs and a 50's themed party.

The week before the opening, the library staff was busy taking the final steps to prepare for visitors. Jean M. Canosa Albano, manager of Public Services and the Mason Square Branch Library, gave Reminder Publications a tour of the renovated facility.

The room that had served as the branch library while the Urban League owned the building is now designed as a community room. It has been equipped with a digital projector and a large screen and features new carpeting. Canosa Albano noted community groups have already signed up to use the room.

The community room looks out to the rear of the branch and into a garden area. Canosa Albano said the Gardening in the Community group is interested in renovating that space to create "a reading garden."

The main part of the library shows the combination of traditional and digital media that characterizes modern libraries. Although there is a traditional circulation desk, there are also two self-check-out kiosks. DVDs are arranged on a shelf, but Canosa Albano said they would soon be loaded into a storage and dispensing unit not unlike the Red Boxes used for DVD rental.

"Libraries are evolving," Canosa Albano explained. "We have to be a 21st century library."

All of the books in the collection will have electronic tags that not only allow for the self-service check out and provide security, but will also allow librarians to check if a book has been improperly shelved.

The renovated library has 20 computer station sets up for public use, and another four computers in a newly created alcove dedicated as an employment and career center. The library will also have WiFi hotspots.

The rear of the main wing of the building will house the teen area and a large children's room which features a new whimsical construction called "Annie's Reading Porch," named after Anne Curran, the benefactor whose bequest funded the library. The porch was designed by Springfield architect Stephen Jablonksi.

The children's area also has a separate project and activity room.

Canosa Albano noted the hours at Mason Square Branch Library will be Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m.; and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m.

The re-opening of the Mason Square Branch Library may be the highlight of National Library Week for the Springfield City Library system, but there will be many other activities.

Springfield native and children's books writer Jamie Michalak will appear at the Forest Park Branch Library at 1 p.m. on April 16. She is the author of the "Joe and Sparky" books for early readers and she will perform a reading, as well as speak about growing up in Springfield, going to the library and becoming an author. She will have books available to purchase.

There will be a "Meet, Speak Out Now" at the Youth Open Mic event for ages 12 to 24 at 1 p.m., April 16 at the Central Library's Community Room. Co-sponsored by the Library and Teatro V!da, the event will feature young people sharing their poetry, stories, comedy, dance and music.

Patrons will be asked to consider being a part of National Library Snapshot Day on April 13, as library staff take photos of all the ways residents use the library that day.

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