Officials offer sneak peek of new library

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Library officials for the first time invited 9News cameras inside the new building under construction at Independence Park Tuesday.

Library spokesman Esau Lolis greeted our team with enthusiasm, as construction workers continued to put the big picture together.

WAFB's Donna Britt said the first impression was how big it is.  There are three floors, and each has spacious gorgeous windows looking out over the greenery of Independence Park.

Lolis showed 9News the Teen Room with its lighted entrance.

"When this is finished the face of the Teen Room, it will light up and it can change colors. And one of the highlights is pillars that we have that are brushed steel."

Donna admired the stairs that rise in the center of the building.  Art hangs two stories high, made of plastic sheets with slivers of magazines and catalogs embedded in them.  Soundproofing wall treatments everywhere add texture to what would sound like a gymnasium if they were not soaking up the vibrations.

The architect in this beautiful building project is Ken Tipton.  His firm has already added the LASM Planetarium to the Baton Rouge landscape.

The Library was a cherished project.

Tipton said, "We did some focus groups both with teens and children and took that information and used that as impetus or energy to begin our design effort."

As crowded as the current main library is, that's how spacious the new library feels.  And even the roof has flair.

Head Librarian Mary Stein says the roof can eventually hold photovoltaic (solar) sheeting that will offset the electrical costs of the building.    She points to the gently bi-folded ceiling and says that the roof is a "butterfly" structure, designed to funnel rainwater into a giant cistern.  The water will then be used for lawn sprinklers and other non-potable needs.

An excited library employee reads the list of structures left to build:  "We're gonna have the BREC Cyber Cafe. We're gonna have teaching gardens, a giant chessboard, reflection pool, splash fountain. There's gonna be a giant TV on the outside of that wall there, that people in the plaza will be able to see."

The building has been designed to re-think our library.  Libraries across the country or sagging in popularity, and the one we're building now has things that will attract people for an evening or an entire afternoon.  Policy for the library will change, so that you really can buy a coffee drink in the Cyber Café and then take it back into the library to study.

Officials tell 9News there will be a soft opening in January with all the other jobs completed by April for an official grand opening.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.