The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

December 7, 2010

The San Jose Way: Renovation designed to make Enid's library more user-friendly

ENID — Public Library of Enid and Garfield County has had a makeover in the San Jose Way.

The San Jose Way is a library makeover plan made famous by the San Jose library system, which researched ways to make the library more user-friendly and a more pleasant experience.

“Several years ago there was a lot of media talk about libraries dying out,” said Michelle Mears, Enid library director. “It came about as a way of saying libraries were not important any more.”

The San Jose library system researched how people behave in retail settings. Officials used testing to show foot traffic, where people went first, where they stayed longest and where they visited least. After completion of the study, the San Jose library renovated one branch, then did the study again.

Their study showed what media areas were popular and showed traffic was high in the computer areas. They rearranged the library to ease flow so people could find things more easily. Mears has done the same renovation at the Enid library.

“Every library will be different. It’s not like the cookie cutter stores where they all look the same, like the B. Dalton’s stores,” she said. “Libraries integrate what they know about their community. It makes it pleasant so people want to come back. We exist to be used, to encourage use. It’s brighter and easier to use.”

As part of the renovation, library staff members are more proactive to the needs of customers and try to know when people need help. Mears said the change is not “crazy radical,” but the library is no longer a warehouse of books. The Enid library recently withdrew all of its VHS tapes because they were not being used and were taking up space.

Mears said the library has to be cutting edge and now is composed of brighter colors and a positive feeling. Part of the plan is brighter colors throughout the library, and a colorful vinyl foyer, some new paint and new furniture. A new lounge area features comfortable furniture, magazines, newspapers and a flat-screen television. During the winter, it shows a blazing fireplace on the screen. Mears said it soon will be capable of showing important news items and weather. She said television is an important part of the lives of people and the library cannot ignore it.

The lounge area is next to the tech area, where computers are available to the public.

The Enid library also is joining a consortium with other libraries to download e-books and loadable audio.

The next planned change is in the teen and children’s areas. Mears said the teen area will be arranged in a way so teens feel they have their own space. It also will be enhanced with comfortable furniture that is adaptive and can be rearranged. There also is a chess game, and the stock of computer games will be increased to provide brain stimulation, she said.

Another flat-screen television also may be placed in that area. However, Mears said that project is in the future and she is planning some fundraising activities to help finance it.

She recently received a grant from Cherokee Strip Community Foundation and Champlin Foundation to replace computerized library games.

Library usage has increased in the past year, following a three-year slide during the time the library roof was repaired. She said usage numbers are not back up to 2004 levels, which are the highest in recent history. About 600 people attended the library First Friday activities last week.

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