Nerd Alert! The Belle Isle Library is Closed…for Remodeling.

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.

From KFOR:

“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.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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11 Responses

  1. I really have been liking the facelifts that the various libraries are getting. Bethany was one that was REALLY in need of an overhaul (they just opened the new one in the past year). Can’t wait to see what Belle Isle will look like when complete.

  2. Since I started going there in the early 70’s to the present, Belle Isle always had a weird, unidentifiable smell – mold or mildew but not overly moldy or mildewy. I am a little conflicted about the remodel because for me it won’t really be the same without that smell. Maybe they could find a way to bottle it and spritz the place with it once in a while for the sake of nostalgia.

    1. I believe that was Marian the Librarian’s deodorant pad.

  3. I look forward to this new additional to my neighborhood. Now maybe they can create an entrance/exit that doesn’t force you into the demolition derby zone.

  4. This was a story on OKCTalk back on Jan 30, 2019 and has had an ongoing discussion since then.

  5. My uncle did the stonework on the current library, and I always liked it. Last time I went in there, it was full of people using the computers and their kids running amok. Didn’t have the library smell anymore.

  6. Can’t recall the source but I read something that mentioned
    some libraries were closing because of the problem with the
    homeless using them for hangouts during the day and the
    issue of social distancing during Covid 19.

    When I gave it some thought I could understand how that’d be
    a real problem and a touchy situation for the staff. It’s not as if
    you can say “Sir you look like a tramp and you’re not welcome
    here.” And so they close them and say it’s due to remodeling.

    Purely speculation on my part. I have no actual facts available.

    1. Seriously? This is a multimillion dollar renovation, it’s been bid, plans are out there, your post is complete BS. Also, most (if not all) libraries in the Metro library system have actually been completely closed to patrons for a long time during this pandemic, so you’re just completely out there on this one, it’s apparent you’re lacking facts in a big way.

    2. Wow, you didn’t even read the article, they opened a temporary library nearby while this building is being remodeled. They did the same thing a couple of years ago when they were redoing the Bethany library.

  7. About 10 years ago the Southern Oaks library in South OKC closed for remodeling. Temp Library moved about 4 miles west. That temporary library was so successful that even after they reopened Southern Oaks they kept the “temporary” library open it is now know as the Almonte Library. I hope the Belle Isle remodeling and it’s temporary relocation has the same success.

  8. STITT [driving past the library with some of his staff] Hey, what’s that building over there?

    STAFF MEMBER: That’s the Belle Isle Library, Governor.

    STITT: What’s a “library?”

    STAFF MEMBER: Uh….you know. A place with lots of books, and people can check the books out and take them home and read them…

    STITT: What the hell is a “book” and what’s this “read” thing you mention-ated? Is it socialist?

    OTHER STAFF MEMBER: Governor, have you ever seen the Victoria Secret catalog, back when you were a young man, and did you notice there were strange black markings on the pages? Those are “words,” and they are made up of “letters,” and if you know how they all fit together you can “read” those words and learn things! It’s like magic!

    STITT [thinking]: OK, I get it! That library thing has catalogs with pictures of nekkid women! YEEEEEEEEEEE-HAW! Turn the car around!

    But sadly it was not to be, and plus I’m tired and the hallucinogens have not yet kicked in, so I shan’t continue this exercise in Stitt-smashing.

    Have a good day and a happy tomorrow. The end.

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