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(Photo by George Vogel)

THE END OF A JOURNEY: Princeton Public Library staff gather inside the doors of the new library on Spring Street on Saturday, April 24, just before opening at 10 a.m. Library Director Leslie Burger gives Eric Greenfeldt, assistant director, a kiss, after receiving congratulatory flowers. The $18 million facility was a long time coming, however many staff and residents say they are happy with the results.
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Princeton Library Opens, Begins Regular Hours

Candace Braun

After an exciting opening last weekend of the new Princeton Public Library on Witherspoon Street, the library has announced it will begin operating under a normal schedule beginning Friday, April 30.

Over 4,500 residents came out to see the new library on April 24, said Eric Greenfeldt, assistant director of the the library.

"The response was fantastic," said Mr. Greenfeldt, who said the library received many compliments from residents, describing the new library as "superb," "elegant," and "better than expected."

The $18 million facility opened to a crowd of approximately 50 people waiting outside the door on Saturday, at 10 a.m. Many attending the events of Communiversity on Saturday also took a walk back along Witherspoon Street to examine the inside of the new three-floor building throughout the day. Maps were distributed to everyone as they entered the building, so they could find their way to the 30 plus designated areas found within the facility.

The library has not been open during its regular hours for the first week of its opening, due to last minute completions on the building.

"We're on an abbreviated schedule this week to allow contractors to put the finishing touches on some areas of the library without getting in the way of our customers," said Tim Quinn, public information director for the library.

Water pressure levels in the penthouse of the library were lower than expected, and the library decided on Saturday that it would need to install an auxiliary boost pump, said Mr. Greenfeldt. "That work started on Saturday and was finished [Monday] morning," he said. "The work went very smoothly, they finished early and we opened as planned at 3 p.m. [Monday]."

Closing early at 4 p.m. over the weekend, the library will hold hours from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. through this Thursday, April 29. However the library will begin operating under its regularly scheduled hours beginning this Friday, said Mr. Quinn.

Hours for the library will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

New Look For Old Town

Princeton's new library offers a modern look in contrast to the many older buildings in town and on campus. A businessman stopping by on his way home from work, a student meeting friends after school, or a child reading a book to his mother can all be found this week at the library as residents begin to make themselves comfortable in Princeton's newest community building. Upon entering the library, with its high ceilings and modern light fixtures, visitors can turn to the right and sit down at the library cafe for a cup of latte or a bite of biscotti.

If one walks straight back, he or she would find artist Ik-Joong Kang's 30-foot tile wall mural, created with many colors and objects donated by Princeton residents. Further back is a door that leads to the garage, with an overhang between buildings to shield walkers from rain and snow. When gliding through the security gates into the actual library, residents are greeted with new release books to the left on blonde wooden bookshelves, and various CDs, videos and DVDs to rent on the right.

Special wall-mounted machines with headphones are available for library patrons to preview a CD or DVD before taking it out of the library. These machines will be up and running within the next few weeks, said a library employee.

An area for readers to sit quietly and enjoy a book is open at the rear of the first floor, with modern lamps on tables next to cushioned chairs. Large windows on every wall give the library a feel of airy openness.

Clear glass stairways take patrons up to the second floor, where periodicals and nonfiction novels are available to loan. Every floor has a checkout desk, and is sprinkled with computers, with over 40 on the second floor alone.

To some the third floor appears to be the most impressive, with an entire area devoted to children, it has smaller tables, chairs, chalkboard tables, and bookshelves. A large white bird sculpture hanging from the ceiling, and a doll house encased in glass near the checkout counter also decorate the room.

On the far back wall hangs a tile painting of a family enjoying dinner on a rooftop, created by artist Faith Ringgold.

A round, glassed-in story room for children is filled with fun chairs and stuffed toys for playtime. Right outside the story room is an outdoor deck with tables and umbrellas.

On the other side of the floor is the teen center, filled with young adult novels and magazines. The walls are lined with cushioned seats for relaxing with friends or doing homework.

An elevator, which is up and running, can be found near the checkout counter on every floor of the building.

The library will be open to the public all week for visitors to stop by and see the new facility. Computers are also up and running to return or check out books.

For more information, call the library at (609) 924-9529, or visit www.princetonlibrary.org.

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