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Spokane's downtown library reopens to the public after two-year renovation

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Art hanging from the ceiling of the newly-renovated Central Library highlights the openness of the space.

The Central Library features a more open first floor, meeting rooms and technology for the public to use.

After two years of remodeling, Spokane’s downtown library branch has reopened. The new version has a different vibe than its predecessor, both in design and function.

When you entered the library, pre-renovation, it was almost as if the designer wanted you to skip the first floor and immediately begin climbing stairs to the places where the books were. Library spokeswoman Amanda Donovan says the new Central Library is very different.

“One of the things you’ll notice when you come into the renovated library is that the entire first floor has been opened up to the public. Almost 100% of that floor, originally, was for staff space and just the way we’ve managed the library has changed so much, we wanted to open that up and make community gathering places," she said.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
The library's first-floor lobby features sitting space, a cafe and used book store.

The city held an open house Monday to allow people to walk through and see a much more open first floor, complete with cafe, used food store event space and meeting rooms.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
City officials say all of Spokane's new and renovated libraries have enhanced play areas for children.

On the second floor is a children’s section complete with toys and books.

Books? Yes, the library still has those, but technology is the emphasis, from the vast amounts of space where you can site with your electronic devices to a studio where you can shoot and edit video.

“We’re trying to change what a library means," said Ryan Tucker, the library's video education specialist.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Ryan Tucker shows off some of the library's new video equipment during an open house Monday.

The new library features a video studio, open to the public, with new cameras, a backdrop and editing equipment. Tucker, the library’s video education specialist, oversees it.

“Weekly, I will be teaching kind of a crash course quiz on how to use some of this equipment if you don’t know how to use it," he said.

And if you do know how to use it, he might teach you something you can add to your toolbox.

“I’m going to teach things monthly from video professionals from all around the area, documentary film making, three-point lighting, just real basic fundamental stuff and I’ll expand on that through the rest of the month," he said.

The library also features 66 public computer stations, something called a ‘maker studio’, five study rooms and an area with a stage and stunning view where 300 people can gather.

Donovan says this branch, and the city’s other new libraries, were designed with public feedback.

“When we started this process in 2015 we started asking citizens what did they want in a 21st century library. Some of those things, the two top things, in fact, were meeting rooms, more meeting space, free meeting space, and improved children’s areas," she said. "So, in all of our new libraries, and we’ve built three new libraries and we’re renovating four libraries as part of that bond, you’ll see beautiful new children’s spaces that are whimsical and inspired by the Inland Northwest and you’ll also see many more meeting rooms in each space."

The Central Library is scheduled to be open seven days a week.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.