Libraries are among the quieter places in a community but the Pasco branch of the Mid-Columbia Libraries was anything but peaceful during its reopening ceremony Thursday.
The Pasco High School mariachi band performed boisterous songs and costumed children’s characters like Dora the Explorer roamed between the new bookshelves as the smell of fresh paint lingered in the air.
“We want it to be loud,” said MCL Executive Director Kyle Cox. “People are excited. Kids are checking out books, they’re getting on computers.”
The $140,000 renovation is the first of many the library district will carry out in the coming years.
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The branch was closed for more than a month for the renovations. The library’s paint was freshened up with neutral colors and accent walls of bright greens and blues. Old shelving was replaced by lower and bigger units to make the library feel more spacious.
“People keep thinking we did (knock out walls) because it’s much more open but we didn’t make any physical changes,” Cox said.
The branch also has new carpeting, new furniture, improvements to the heating and cooling system, additional computers and $50,000 worth of new books and materials.
“It’s a lot cozier,” said Fabiola Balderas, who had settled onto one of the new couches to read with her son, Joey Alatorre, 7.
Members of the business community, Pasco School District officials and elected city leaders also praised the branch’s opening and the importance of libraries, not just for books but also as a gathering space and a place to access resources.
Pasco Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik said she read books during the two hours a day she spent on a school bus as a child. All that time buried in books did a lot to shape her world view, she said.
“I still come to the library every Monday before council meetings,” she said.
Erica Taranto said before the renovation she came to the branch about twice a month with her daughter Lucca, 3, and son Colton, 1, to take advantage of the books and bilingual story time.
The family still managed to get to the library during the past month the Pasco branch was closed by visiting the west Pasco and Kennewick branches, but Taranto said she’s definitely glad to have her home branch open again.
“I think it looks great,” she said. “It’s so fresh and clean.”
Three more branches — Prosser, Connell and Othello — are scheduled for renovations this year, with the Kennewick, Keewaydin Park and Kahlotus branches getting improvements in 2015, Cox said.
The details and timing for those projects are still being worked out, but if they are carried out as well as the Pasco renovation and received as warmly, Cox said he’d be happy.
“It goes to show people like their library and couldn’t wait to get back in,” he said.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald