Media Center
  • Thursday, October 27, 2016
    'New' library will feature state-of-the-art technology
    Patrons who are eagerly awaiting reopening of Brenham’s Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Library in only a few weeks will find that it’s not “the same old library.”
    Far from it.
    The expanded and renovated library, which will reopen Nov. 14, will have a wide array of technological features, ranging from being able to print documents from a smartphone to “hearing aids” that connect wirelessly to a portable podium in the main meeting room.
    Brenham officials gave a sneak peek of the totally redone facility to local media on Wednesday.
    The $3.2 million project was a public-private collaboration, with 47 percent of the funding coming from private sources and grants.
    The existing facility was removed all the way to its concrete foundation, then rebuilt. Another 3,400 square-feet were added, expanding its total size by about a fourth.
    Wende Ragonis, the city’s director of Community Services, said the project has been “a collaboration of monumental scale.”
    In addition to significant financial help from the Fortnightly Club, the library project also received grants from Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Texas State Library.
    All of those grants, said Ragonis, went for “technology” that will benefit users ranging from schoolchildren who don’t have internet access at home to people wanting to apply for a job online.
    Ragonis, who oversees the library operations, said she doesn’t have a background in library sciences but quickly came to realize the facility needs to make technology available to all users.
    “We really tried to make sure that we were incorporating the technology that people needed,” she said. “I’m amazed by the people who walk through those doors. And the more I got to know the people who walked through those doors and what their needs are, the more I realized the community needs this building.
    “If we (people seeking work) don’t have the skill set to be competitive, we don’t have the technology, we don’t have access to the information ... people can’t go and apply for a job. Then that affects us economically.”
    One of the library’s main missions will be to bring modern technology to students who don’t have that access at home.
    Ragonis said a survey of local teachers stressed the importance of the library providing those services.
    “What we’ve found is that they believe that 50 percent of the kids don’t have access to technology when they go home,” she said. “What a great thing this is going to be to help those students be successful in the classroom.”
    City council member Keith Herring, who serves on the library board, said an effort was made to design and implement features that will help students and other patrons.
    “This is a totally new version of the library,” said Herring. “We worked very closely with Blinn, BISD to make this a multi-use facility.
    “It’s not just ‘walk in a check out a book.’”
    Librarian Andria Heiges said the new facility will provide “opportunities.”
    “We’re very proud of this facility. We feel like it gives up the opportunity to provide something to the community — a place where everyone has equal access to technology,” said Heiges.
    Assistant librarian Tammy Murphy, a retired elementary teacher, said an effort was also made to incorporate teenagers into the planning process.
    Toward that end, the library will include a room to play video games and special programs aimed at teenagers.
    One library feature is being eagerly awaited — a media room with a “green screen” that will allow special effects.
    “This is the room the kids are most excited about,” said Murphy.
    Other features include an expanded genealogical area, study rooms, conference rooms, printers and scanners, and “smartboards” and laptop computers that will be available for use.
    Public use is expected to blossom when the new facility opens; Ragonis said that already, on average, about four new accounts are being added each day and 41 people use a library computer.
    New hours will also be implemented — 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.
    The library will reopen Nov. 14 with a special ceremony at 2 p.m.

    Source: Brenham Banner-Press