Thursday, November 11, 2010
The problem with the downtown library
Building the new downtown library WAS by all means a great decision and a major victory for urban enthusiasts. Not only is the architecture of the building a positive but also the presence of a library people actually want to go to is a huge benefit to the downtown environment. There's only one problem with the implementation of that idea: the hours of operation.
These are the hours of operation for the Ronald Norick Downtown Library.
Monday - Thursday 9am - 9pm
Friday 9am - 6pm
Saturday 9am - 5pm
Sunday 1pm - 6pm
Monday through Thursday seem alright, but why are there no evening hours on Friday and Saturday? Granted, we all know that librarians hate being cooped up in libraries and held from their active social life, but that aside--it just does NOT make sense for the library hours and downtown's busiest hours not to coincide. Part of the reason why you never really see as much people activity as you'd expect around such a public asset is that its hours and downtown's hours don't really coincide. And by that I am sort of excluding people in suits who aren't really going to use the library anyway unless they have a meeting in one of its great meeting rooms.
It just seems disingenuous for the library to never be open when most regular people are going to be downtown. The slight improvement on these hours that needs to be made is that it needs to be open until at least 9 pm on Friday and Saturday. Then I think you would see more synergy between it and the arts district--people attending showings at the OKCMOA or plays at the Civic Center Music Hall or events in the revitalized Myriad Gardens could make a stop at the library. This would lead to a huge increase in casual traffic, because as it is with the library hours, you're only going to go in there if you're looking for something specific. And what's more is that it really doesn't help people who don't either work downtown or live downtown. Working downtown are about 50,000 people; living downtown are a little over 5,000 people. We are a city of 560,000 and a metro of 1.3 million.
It just seems like the library is currently excluding itself from taking a more prominent role in forming that downtown lifestyle we're looking for. At the very least, longer operation hours on weekends would at least keep the homeless people who have claimed that side of Park Avenue at bay a little longer. That alone would go a long way toward making downtown more people-friendly.