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A new chapter

Land O'Lakes, Regency Park libraries will reopen with space and style.

By MICHELE MILLER
Published March 25, 2007


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photo
[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
Regency Park library branch manager Sarah Watts-Casinger organizes paperbacks in the renovated building, which is now bigger by 8,000 square feet.

The last couple of weeks have been a little overwhelming, what with unpacking thousands of books, painting, repainting, installing artwork and lighting fixtures, hooking up computers and everything else that goes into checking off that final list.

Now multiply that by two.

Pasco County library staffers and contractors have been working feverishly these past few weeks, all so everything will be in order when the doors open at noon Monday at the newly renovated Land O'Lakes and Regency Park libraries.

Monday's opening is much anticipated for both staff and patrons, who for the last 18 months have been getting their literary fixes at smaller temporary locations while the $3-million renovations have been under way.

"We can't wait to open," said Land O'Lakes branch manager Nancy Fredericks. "The public is waiting for us. It's so exciting."

"I'm amazed at how excited the people in this community are that the libraries are opening," said Sarah Watts-Casinger, the new branch manager at Regency Park, who recently moved here from St. Louis, Mo. "The response has been great."

Wait till they get a load of the fish at Regency, the birds at Land O'Lakes and all the extra room at both locations.

Each library has nearly doubled in size, adding another 8,000 square feet to the original 10,000. That space offers separate areas for children, teens and adults, along with larger meeting rooms, study rooms, computer labs and a bookstore that will be staffed by library volunteers.

"I think we've really addressed the issue of growing up," said Fredericks. "This is a place you can come when you're little, when you're in between and when you're an adult."

"Part of the wow factor is the artwork installed by Creative Arts Company at both locations," said Stephen Kershner, assistant director and head of public service for Pasco County libraries.

The Land O'Lakes library features a floor-to-ceiling Florida wildlife theme, with hanging wooden sculptured birds. A crane and pelican greet visitors in the main library. Colorful roseate spoonbills hang from the ceiling in the children's area.

Young visitors will also find an array of turtles, panthers and alligators adorning low tables and serving as colorful partitions for children's computers.

"It's all very whimsical," said Fredericks.

Aquatics is the theme at Regency Park, where the walls and floors are adorned in shades of blue.

The best part, said Watts, is in the children's section, where five neon-colored fish hang from the ceiling.

"I think people will just be coming here to see them," Watts said. "They're so neat."

Teens at both locations will also have their own glassed-in area, complete with colorful lighted partitions, computers and comfy video rocking chairs.

"This gives them their space but we still have a lot of supervision," Fredericks said.

An added benefit is the additional parking at both branches and drive-up drop-off boxes at two different levels to accommodate both sport utility vehicles and standard size cars.

Plans for a cafe had to be put on hold, said Kershner, adding that it was difficult to get vendors to commit to such low volume traffic.

"Right now, covered beverages are permitted, but we hope to have some type of self-serve thing in the lobby. It just hasn't happened at this time."

That's not a big drawback at all - what with everything else the two libraries have to offer.

"It just feels good to have all this room," said Fredericks, adding that day and evening children's and family programs will be up and running soon at her branch. "I'm sure we're going to fill this space in no time," she added.

"But that's a good thing."

Michele Miller can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6251 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6251. Her e-mail is miller@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

 

What's new

The newly renovated Land O'Lakes and Regency Park libraries reopen Monday with the following features:

- Nearly twice as much space.

- A computer lab.

- A separate teen area and a children's wing.

- A warmer decor with comfy seats where patrons can enjoy covered beverages.

 

Check Them Out

Regency Park library, 9701 Little Road, New Port Richey, and Land O'Lakes library, 2818 Collier Parkway, will open to the public at noon Monday.

County commissioners will cut a celebratory ribbon at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Regency Park library.

Grand Opening for Regency Park library will be at 1 p.m. April 15.

Grand Opening for Land O'Lakes library will be at 1 p.m. April 22.

[Last modified March 24, 2007, 21:01:12]


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