Technology put in forefront of renovations to Tulsa’s Central Library


By Zach Redwood
Photos by Zach Redwood

On Oct. 1, the newly renovated Tulsa County Library opened its door and showed Tulsa the $55 million renovations that kept the library closed for nearly three-and-half years.

The library had been saving their reserve fund to help with the renovations. To help fund the rest of the project, the city used tax dollars, public funding, and private donors.

The new facility is more than just a book sanctuary. The building is meant to encourage more “people time.” With the same layout as the library’s previous chapter, this new floor plan lends itself to group collaboration.

The first floor greets guests with a Starbucks Coffee shop. As people walk, eyes are immediately drawn to the grand staircase paired with the stark white color scheme.

The open floor plan leads guests to computer stations; self book check-out stands, and the large children’s section.

The back section of the first floor is dedicated specifically to children. The Herman and Kate Kaiser Children’s Area is also a link to a small garden located outside the library.

The garden is the library’s biggest activity hub.

On Oct. 19 during the event Babies, Bubbles and Books, in the garden, local babies and their caregivers played with an automatic bubble machine and the small fountain in the garden.

The babies then sat down to read in the Mary K. Chapman Children’s Story Time Meeting Room.

While the kids were playing, many adults were hard at work. In the Renee Neuwald Trust Maker Space, Tim Smith, supervisor for the Maker Space, explained the use for all items in the Maker Space.

Everything at the Maker Space is free of charge. However, an orientation is needed before one starts using all the equipment.

The Maker Space has two 3D printers, a screen printing press, a vinyl cutter, and a laser engraver. Tulsans have also voiced requests for more “low-tech” equipment.

Smith says,

“People that are not as up-to-date with all of the other tools may just want to learn to sew, or use a soldering iron.”

Things like soldering irons, sewing machines, knitting and crochet supplies, and calligraphy equipment like pens and pencils are all available inside the Maker Space.

Located in the back of the Maker Space, an audio booth for music and vocal recording gives Tulsans the opportunity to record some of the songs that they may have written and had nowhere to record them. The studio is also equipped with a full keyboard, an acoustic guitar, electric bass, and electric drum pads.

The computer in the studio is outfitted with four different types of music-making software.

Like all equipment in the Maker Space, the studio requires an orientation. Smith asks that people take the time to learn the basics first.

“The programs can be structured if we need it to be, but if people want to learn a new hobby or new skill at their own pace, then that is perfectly reasonable.”

If writer’s block strikes in the studio, one can climb the grand staircase up to the second floor and hide out in one of the 10 study rooms available.

The small glass-enclosed rooms surround the edges of the second floor. Hoping to camp out in a study pod for a couple of hours? Service is first come, first serve, and perfect for studying with a view. Each room looks out over the city streets and is furnished with two chairs and a table.

The study rooms vary in size and can hold up 14 people.

The library does request that Tulsan book the study rooms online. Also on the second floor, guests can participate in online classes in mathematics, English, history, and typing.

As the library continues to the third floor, the research possibilities magnify. Feeling the need to nurture that inner geologist? Head over to the map table, a giant table-sized tablet that focuses on showing many different maps. On site are many topographical and physiological maps from the United States.

If one needs to check past newspapers, the facility has upgraded its hardware to better fit the needs of guests. Old newspaper films from the 1930’s to today of the Tulsa World or even the New York Times can be viewed, printed, or even saved and taken on a flash drive. There is a small charge of 10 cents for each copy, but saving the files are free.

Tulsa’s Central Library has met the 21st Century demand of technology. Having such rich resources for its guests, the library has given an open door for Tulsans to utilize.

The Central Library still has all the same books and magazines as all libraries.

This library, however, has changed its look and its components.