The new Hinesville branch of the Live Oak Public Libraries system on Memorial Drive is nearing completion.
The old library closed Friday, and employees will start moving items to the new building Monday. The library will stay closed until May 18 as the new building is set up, according to Jason Broughton, the interim library director.
A soft opening will take place May 18.
"And we’ll be open, but it maybe might not have the full flair as of yet because that’s not going to be a grand opening," Broughton said. "It’s just us testing out. But you can come in and see the building. If we’re really up and running you can come out and check out some books."
He said the library will probably not have any programs running during the soft opening.
"But by June 1, when we kick off our summer reading, we will definitely be open for our kickoff for that," Broughton said.
Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown said the grand opening date will depend on how soon the county completes the next phase of the project, which includes tearing down the old library. He thinks the ribbon cutting will be in mid June or early July.
The new library features large windows and an open floor plan. A large skylight above the main desk pours natural light into the center of the library, and a large circular window is a highlight of the children’s section.
The white-brick outside continues inside on the columns. Modern seating and tables throughout the building make the library look fresh and functional.
The building also features large meeting rooms for events such as town halls and discussions, and the furniture allows them to be used for different settings.
Other areas include a large computer room with 50 computers, study rooms, window seating and a book-processing room. There will be Wi-Fi throughout the building.
The children’s area will have computers, an activity room for arts and crafts, and a large room for programs such as story time or puppet shows.
The library will also feature automatic checkouts.
An outside area with furniture will allow for another space for reading.
"So it’s going to be kind of a contemporary, but yet traditional-style library," Broughton said. "We try to kind of mix and match quite a lot, looking at what the community might wish to have or be exposed to. So this is bright and airy, and you’re able to kind of gauge how it should feel — nice and light."
The library was built using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
"As of right now, the building is earlier than scheduled and under budget," Brown said. "So I’m very happy."
Broughton wants people to use the library.
"We want them to visit. We want them to engage. We want them to know that this is their library," he said. "It’s community-based, so we want you to come in for a variety of resources."
Libraries are going through a transformation, Broughton said
"Our biggest things that we do deal with are usually access and equity," he said. "And between those two items, it means that as a community changes, the library has to change. We are always going to be about books, but what we do will also have an impact because technology changes a lot of the things on how we access that information.
"Come prepared to be wowed and surprised," he added. "This is your library of the future."