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New library can invigorate Newhall

Live from City Hall

Posted: September 27, 2008 8:52 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Public libraries exemplify all that is good in America. As Walter Cronkite said, “Whatever the cost of funding our libraries, it is cheap compared to the cost of an ignorant nation.”

According to a recent article in USA Today: American public libraries are busier than ever, even though the Internet was supposed to send them the way of eight-track tapes and pay phones. Instead of dying, libraries have transformed themselves from staid, sleepy institutions into hip community centers offering internet service, classes for kids and seniors, and even coffee and video gaming nights. 
Project survey of public attitudes found that libraries still have a very robust and large constituency and are thriving in the Internet age.

In light of all the advances over the last decade, where are libraries headed and what needs do libraries fulfill for individuals, as well as the community as a whole? Do we as a society still value the reading time for preschoolers, the numerous works of literature and the volumes of reference materials available at the library?

City survey
The city of Santa Clarita recently conducted a survey regarding the Downtown Newhall Library Project that received overwhelming input from the community. The survey took place from January to March of this year, with a total of 1,452 online and in-person responses received.

Residents gave feedback on the survey, with a majority stating the library should include open, airy, well lit places, numerous Internet and computer work areas, a separate work area for students, a café and material offered in different languages among many other things. 

The results from the survey will assist in the design of the Downtown Newhall Library. The city wants to ensure that the most innovative and beneficial library facility is brought to the community.

The Downtown Newhall Library project will transition into the next phase of the planning with community workshops. These workshops are designed to allow residents a hands-on opportunity to participate in group discussions and exercises with the design team, so that the community vision is communicated.

The second community workshop will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Hart Hall, which is located at William S. Hart Park.

This workshop will allow participants to review the conceptual site plan and architectural direction that was received by the public from the first public workshop.

Participants will also have the opportunity to give additional comments on the conceptual site plans and the architectural style of the proposed library.

This second workshop will provide a place for residents to not only review the plans for the library, but also share their thoughts on what can be done at the library facility to ensure that it will be most beneficial to the community.

The addition of the Downtown Newhall Library will serve to shape the future of Old Town Newhall, as well as the future of our local youth, who should benefit greatly from the access they will have to a modern, and innovative facility.

Potential visitors
Along with services and programs, the city has the opportunity to invigorate Newhall with an expanded customer base for local businesses.  Last year alone, 80,000 visitors patronized the 4,000 square foot New-hall library. 

This is quite impressive compared with the 210,000 who visited the 12,000 square foot Canyon Country library or more than 373,000 who visited the 23,000 square foot Valencia library. A new 20,000-25,000 square foot library in Old Town Newhall could potentially draw 400,000 visitors annually. 

Everyone is invited to join their neighbors to discuss this exciting project. Please attend, and encourage others to do so as well. All input will be considered and is appreciated.

The Sept. 30 workshop marks the second of three that will take place over the next few months. Hart Hall is located at William S. Hart Park, 24151 Newhall Ave. (formerly San Fernando Road).

For more information prior to the community workshop, please contact Alex Hernandez, City Administrative Analyst at (661) 286-4030.

Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. Her column represents her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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