It’s not a brand new library — but it sure looks and feels like one.
The New River Library, at 34043 State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel, has reopened its doors after a massive overhaul that took longer than expected because of COVID-19 and material delays.
The library officially reopened on April 30, but work is not completely finished yet on the outdoor garden spaces, and library staff is still awaiting the arrival of some furniture and materials.
Still, there’s an air of excitement as staff prepares to offer library patrons a more comfortable place to read, meet and take advantage of programming.
Most of the activities won’t kick into high gear until later this year, as the library continues to offer the vast majority of programming remotely.
Still, staff is eager for patrons to come in and take a look around.
“People are welcome to come in and they’re welcome to take our nickel tour, what we call a Sneak Preview,” said Angelo Liranzo, a regional manager for Pasco County Libraries.
The tour gives patrons a chance to see what’s there now and to hear about what’s coming.
Danielle Lee, branch manager at New River, is excited about the possibilities.
Those entering the library site now have two options. A driveway has been added on the east side of the library campus.
New landscaping has been added, too, with palm trees lining the sidewalk and flowering plants greeting visitors as they make their way to the front entryway.
“The outside is a lot more harmonious with Wesley Chapel, which has a lot new communities with beautiful entries into their subdivisions, and the library looks like it belongs in that area,” Liranzo said.
A giant mat at the front door gives patrons a chance to wipe off their feet before stepping onto the newly installed flooring in the library’s new lobby.
The space is much more open and brighter than the one it replaced, and there is seating available there. There are new restrooms, too, designed for individual or family use. Each restroom is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant.
Inside the library, patron will find staffers at the service desk, ready to help people find what they need.
There’s a new children’s room, where children can play with toys. Future plans call for having story time there. Older kids can use the room’s computers.
The space has large windows looking out onto the library’s front yard, which is landscaped with trees and flowering plants. There’s also a view of busy State Road 54.
“This is my favorite room,” said Danielle Lee, the branch manager. “It’s relaxing.”
There’s also an enclosed space for teens, which also has large windows.
“They’re going to have gaming computers in there, so if they’re playing on the computers they can have a good time and not disturb anyone else,” Liranzo said.
“We have study rooms that we never had before. Those are very nice,” Liranzo added.
Lee noted: “Study Room C is large enough — where a group can study.”
It can accommodate up to eight people, she added.
Liranzo also noted: “We still have our big open space that we can do programs in. We have enclosed spaces, where people don’t feel they’re being disturbed by noise. That’s something we never had before.”
The large space, which can be used for events, can become even larger because the furniture and bookshelves, are movable, Lee said.
There’s a community meeting room, too, which is equipped to facilitate Zoom sessions and big screen presentations.
The room can be reserved, but a priority system is used, with library programs getting first dibs, followed by government programs, and then, local organizations, Liranzo said.
The meeting room also is the space used by the Supervisor of Elections for a voting precinct.
Outside, on the east side of the library, crews are hard at work installing garden spaces.
When finished, there will be community garden plots. There also will be a butterfly garden, a native plants garden, a seasonal plants garden and a sensory garden.
The library expects to partner with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Pasco County Extension to offer demonstrations and learning opportunities, Liranzo said.
Nearly everything at the library has been redone or replaced.
“The exterior brick is the same. The roof is the same. But everything else was gutted out,” Liranzo said.
“We’re very fortunate that the Go Bonds were approved by the public,” Liranzo said, noting the bond proceeds paid for the cost of renovations, furniture and materials.
The library is far more than a place to simply read and check out books, Lee and Liranzo said.
It’s also a place where people gather for story time, book clubs, knitting, card games and an assortment of other activities.
That all came to a halt because of the pandemic, but library staff can’t wait for the day when the library can come back to full life — as a place where people can gather, to learn and to socialize.
New River Library, 34043 State Road 54, Wesley Chapel
Monday and Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Published June 02, 2021