When any local resident or passer-by takes a first look at the nearly finished Sandy Public Library renovation, there's only one word to describe the feeling:
At first glance, the conspicuous, massive wood beams and posts supported by real stones frame the many windows capturing natural light for the interior.
Upon their initial stroll through the newly renovated library, local residents will be amazed at the entire transformation.
Three of the nearly 75-year-old walls may have been left standing, but what has been added is striking, according to Library Director Beth Scarth, who said the front doors would open to the public March 5.
Welcome to your new library
Through those doors, which have been moved near the west parking lot, library visitors will enter a welcoming space - enclosed in glass, wood and stone and bathed in natural light.
'It feels like you are still outside,' Scarth said.
In this space are check-out desks, self-check-out stations, an information center, self-serve books on hold, staff work space and offices - including a room with a door for use by small groups that wish to talk.
A glance to the left requires a double-take because in the distance is the children's area, with nine large trees emerging from the bookshelves and hovering over them, each tree reaching 11 feet to the ceiling and spreading equally left and right.
A walk through the building
A slow walk up the ramp toward the children's area allows time to peruse the historical art, courtesy of the Sandy Historical Society, hanging on the ramp's wall.
At the next level, instead of continuing toward the children's area a turn left to enter the comfortable reading lounge will expose a slate and stone gas fireplace reaching to the ceiling.
A walk toward the building's center takes library visitors past space dedicated to young adults and everyone who wants to use the library's technology. Those resources permeate every area of the building - including the picture-book area that has two early-literacy computers on a low counter.
Ascending another ramp toward adult resources takes people past a spotlighted, more contemporary art exhibit hanging on the ramp's left wall.
By the time one has reached the adult area, it will have been easy to feel the warmth of the variety of new colors - on the walls, ceiling and carpeting.
Not only the visual warmth is there to be felt, but also the space's openness. The distant back wall can be seen while standing at the front wall.
Modern yet efficient design features
The city's newest treasure is anything but a big-box book warehouse. Instead, its various areas are well defined, separated with different colors on the walls, different floor levels, short walls of separation and varied heights of the drop-down ceilings.
In a few prominent areas, Architect Fred Gast has brought the outside inside by placing stone accents under some wood-frame windows. Sandy style also is given emphasis with the abundant use of natural wood.
A walk past the Book Nook, operated by the Friends of the Sandy Public Library, will give a glimpse of the Friends' large work area.
Not far is a hallway leading to rest rooms and the entrance to a new Community Room, complete with drop down screen, Power Point projector, tables and chairs in a storage area as well as a complete kitchen with a serving counter.
The Community Room, Scarth said, can be used by those who reserve it even at times when the library is closed as well as for large-group children's programs.
Overall, the renovated library has been designed for increased comfort and proficiency, not only for adept and widespread use of resources but also for efficient energy use - and that includes solar panels on the roof.
Gast also has added a system that dims the LED lights, reducing energy use when outside light enters a room. That system also turns the lights off automatically when it senses there is no movement inside a room.
'We're very proud of the fact that we've got such energy efficiency in this old building,' Scarth said, 'and they were able to make it like a brand new building.'
Staff work areas are completely hidden - some behind a wall in the checkout area, where book drops penetrate the outside wall. The rest of the work area is upstairs overlooking the checkout stations.
The library also has a one-way drive-through from Proctor Boulevard so patrons may conveniently drop off books or other resource materials.
Scarth says the county's other librarians are likely to be jealous of the modern, expansive facility that Sandy residents will be enjoying for at least another 75 years.