Kent Free Library opens tomorrow

Bryan Wroten

Patrons visit the open house for the new Kent Free Library yesterday. The library will be open to the public on Tuesday. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Kent residents poured through the doors of the Kent Free Library yesterday after waiting more than two years to see it.

People could walk around the newly renovated library from 2 to 5 p.m. during its open house. Because the library won’t officially open until tomorrow, visitors couldn’t check out any items.

“I’m so excited when something big happens for the community,” said Karen Beck, library board of trustees member.

During the Open House hours, hundreds of visitors toured the new facilities. The 55,000-square-foot building has a mixture of new and old styles. The Ohio history section of the library was restored to look like the old Carnegie library, circulation staff Dorothy Peachock said. It even has the cherry wood table and chairs from the first library, she said.

The first floor of the library houses the fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, reference and audiovisual sections. There is also a cafe, copy room and quiet reading room. The second floor has the children’s section, complete with a train, senior area, periodicals, large print, computer areas and meeting rooms.

Construction for the library started in 2004. A year earlier, voters approved of dedicating tax dollars to a 27-year bond. The approval gave the library $13.5 million, and funded the renovations along with private donations.

There are a few more last minute things to take care of before the library opens, library director Carmen Celigoj said, such as training the staff for some of the new systems.

Her favorite part of the day, she said, was listening to and seeing the public’s reaction.

“I’m anxious to see them make use of the new facility,” she said.

Kent residents Christine Long and Elaine LaRock said it has been years since they’ve been to the library. Neither went to the temporary location on South Water Street during the renovations, they said. Now that the library has re-opened, they are impressed.

“I think it’s lovely,” Long said. “I like the open areas where you can sit and talk. It’s very modern and comfortable.”

Christy Balan, associate professor of education, health and human services, and Melody Tankersley, professor of educational foundations and special services, brought their son, Jackson, 6, to see the new children’s section.

“Our community really needs this,” Tankersley said. “It’s a wonderful gift to Kent. This seems like such a welcoming place to be.”

Jackson said he liked the look of the renovations. He said it looked like “the future.”

The Kent Free Library, located at 312 W. Main St., will be open to the public starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Contact public affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].