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England Run Library will be gathering spot

November 3, 2009 12:36 am


Architect Gregory S. Lukmire points out highlights of the interior of England Run Library, under construction in southern Stafford. It is scheduled to open in September.



England Run Library, now going up in Stafford, will be as big as a football field. But tucked into that 30,000-square-foot site, along with 90,000 books and 50 public computer terminals, will be the intimacies of a cafe, a fireplace gathering-spot, comfortable chairs and a gold-sheathed Beehive Room where children can read and romp in a space of their own.

More than 150 residents of the England Run and Falls Run communities, which flank the new library site in southern Stafford, met recently with the architect and Central Rappahannock Regional Library leaders.

"The builders are ahead of schedule," said architect Gregory S. Lukmire, "and they're pushing it."

The library is expected to open by September.

The contemporary-design library is a curved building at the corner of Plantation Drive and Lyons Boulevard, a single story of glass, stone and brick, with a copper-colored roof. There will be wood ceilings and indirect lighting throughout.

"By day, you can watch the world go by inside and out," said Lukmire. "After dark, it will be a beacon in the night to passers-by."

And there's another reason for the glass.

"The best kind of security is glass," Lukmire said. "If others can see what's going on, people don't tend to cause trouble."

There also is a reason for the curve in the building, Lukmire told the residents.

"As you walk through the library, you have something new to find as you move around another turn."

The library will be a gathering place, he said. There will be two large meeting rooms--one for 180 people, another for 120--and numerous small meeting rooms for public use.

Half of the library space will be devoted to the adult collection. The area for young children is at one end. In between are books for teens. All the bookshelves will be 60 inches high to make everything accessible. In addition to the 50 computer terminals available, the library will have a Wi-Fi zone.

Other state-of-the-art conveniences will include a drive-up window for book return and pickup--call ahead to order a specific title. There will be conventional information and checkout desks, but there also will be self-checkout facilities.

"Convenience is important," said Caroline Parr, youth services coordinator.

If you want to get an idea of what England Run Library will look like, said Parr, visit the recently renovated Salem Church Library in Spotsylvania. Lukmire did that work, as well as the designs of more than 35 other libraries in the region--including Stafford's only other public library, John Porter Memorial, in the northern end of the county.

Hugh Muir: 540/735-1975

Seventeen years ago, between journalism jobs, I helped open and cashier for a new kind of bookstore, a big-box Barnes & Noble, south of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. It was, for its time, state-of-the-art: lounge chairs to curl up in, soft carpeting on which readers (particularly kids) could stretch out and read, coffee machines and tables to sit at while leafing through a bestseller, and lots of open space.

"Cool," many customers said to me. "It's just like a library."

At the recent meeting about England Run Library, being built in southern Stafford, architect Greg Lukmire said: "It will have reading nooks, comfortable chairs, tables, a snacks-and-drinks lounge, and kids' corners. It's just like a bookstore."

"Cool," some residents responded with delight.

I remembered, and I smiled.

--Hugh Muir

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