A couple weeks ago, as part of a larger multi-library tour hosted by the Southern California chapter of the Evangelical Church Library Association (ECLA) on Saturday, April 13th, I visited the new Old Town Newhall Library — a branch of the Santa Clarita Library System, located in Newhall, California, which opened last September.
The Old Town Newhall (OTN) Library is spectacular, beautifully designed, and equipped with the latest and greatest of library technologies. Situated right in the heart of Newhall’s charming old town district, OTN’s architecture blends well into the historic feel of the area while still mixing in pieces of contemporary architecture in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The new library is extremely popular with area residents and quite busy. They currently issue about 1,000 new library cards per month, and receive an average daily attendance of 1,300 to 1,500 people.
Our tour bus was greeted at the back entrance by our guides for the next hour, Shannon Vonnegut (digital services librarian) and Chris Baker (youth services librarian). These two highly personal librarians (both very passionate about their patrons and work) walked our group through every public area of the library and behind the scenes in the collection processing staff area.
Since our tour bus dropped us off at the back entrance, I grabbed some photos of the front “Old Town” entrance from the city’s Flickr channel.
Both entrances flank a cathedral ceiling entryway that bisects the building. This entryway is decorated with historic photographs from the area (shout out to the local historical society!), paying tribute to the city’s real life western heritage as well as its cinematic western heritage.
The Children’s Library
Although I worked as an adult public services librarian in my public library days, I have a huge soft spot for energetic well designed children’s areas. OTP’s children’s library is adorable, high energy, and high traffic. We visited on a Saturday morning and were told that this area is jam-packed after school.
The Teen Library
Teen patrons at OTN Library also have their very own super cool dedicated space, across the library entryway still on the first floor. We were told that, like the children’s area, the Teen Zone is quite busy after school. It is also home to the only computer stations in the library (visible behind the shelves in the left side of the photo) that are accessible to both youth and adult patrons.
The Adult Library
The entire upstairs is dedicated to adult services, with one half of the upper floor housing the adult stacks and a very comfy reading room. The adult technology center, smart technology-enabled study rooms, and the local history room are located in the opposite wing.
RFID Automated Check-In and Sorter
And the OTN Library feature that garnered the most “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from our group? The RFID enabled check-in and sorter. Patrons drop their materials off at the Returns station and get to watch their returned materials get processed on the conveyor belt. As return materials fall on to the conveyor belt, the materials are automatically checked back into the library via an RFID reader. The RFID scanner also determines which sorting bin each item belongs in, and the conveyor belt delivers that item into the correct sorting bin. There is a “problem” bin at the very end for materials the RFID scanner cannot identify.
In addition to our OTN Library tour guides, I have to give a bit shout-out and thank you to our ECLA hosts from nearby Grace Baptist Church Library, who coordinated the entire day and tour.