I was sitting at home last Tuesday night, quietly minding my own business with a pot of tea and a mediocre book when my gal-pal Jodie sent me an alarming text informing me the Belle Isle Library has been unceremoniously closed, attached with a picture should I need proof.
My already fragile psyche was obviously shaken. Many people know that the Belle Isle Library was my first true job, obtaining a work permit to hold an afterschool gig as a page, shelving books and setting up meeting rooms for close to five years. It was additionally the site of many youthful erotic exploits, some of which I have chronicled here in the past and think about often.
Sadly, I haven’t been back in about twenty years, save for a quick run-in to use the computer when my internet was down. Still, when Jodie sent me that text, a live bolt of dead electricity ran through my veins and my chest started beating irregularly, providing another pitiful example of how I’m getting old and the world is moving past me.
But, as my pulse slowly went back to its semi-regular beat, I went online to look for the whole story, eventually finding out that the library is only shut down for massive remodeling, which is especially smart as library use is probably at an all-time low thanks to Covid.
“I’m excited about this renovation and expansion,” said Metropolitan Library System Executive Director Julie Ballou. “The Belle Isle Library is one of our busiest libraries, and a remodel has been needed for years. Adding a much larger meeting room, children and teen spaces will be especially popular with the community.”
The additional 10,000 square feet will include a much larger meeting area, study rooms, children’s programming space, a dedicated teenager area and a studio “makerspace.”
The updated library will include new furniture and computers and more parking.
“Bright colors, floor-to-ceiling windows in some spaces and modern materials will make use of natural light freshen the library’s look and feel,” the news release states.
With a dated design that I had always thought resembled the layout of a popular starship from a series of hackneyed sci-fi movies, the Belle Isle Library has always been the Metropolitan Library System’s premier storefront escapade that kids, teens and adults have flocked to for school reports, quiet tutoring and pleasurable reading, before the internet negated those things.
According to the presumptive plans for the place, the new design will feature a smoother, sleeker design with more crystal-clear glass and less embedded pebbles, seeming more like a remodel project better suited for 2032 San Angeles than 2020 Oklahoma City, but maybe the optimistically utopian design will once again bring in more voracious book readers and less computer pornography lovers.
But, if you can’t wait for your next fix of either visual narcotic, there is a temporary library located at 3621 Northwest Expressway near the Buy for Less, a part of town that is as bland as the glue that bines so many of those tomes together. Or, you know, you could also try a local bookstore…those places are dying slow deaths as well.