January is National Book Month. We can’t think of a better time to showcase the sparkling new Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library on Main Street.
There’s a new kid in town. Have you noticed? If you go to the corner of West Sixth Avenue and South Main Street, you’ll see it: the gleaming $10.5 million, 35,000-square-foot Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library. From the outside, this glass and steel structure offers a striking modern counterpoint to the Classical Revival, Italianate, Romanesque and Art-Deco buildings in this historic downtown neighborhood.
Originally slated to open in March, the library’s unveiling ended up being pushed to November thanks to COVID-19-related delays in the construction process.
We think you’ll agree: It was worth the wait. The pandemic didn’t diminish the impact of this community masterpiece. From the outside, the building is pure eye candy; on the inside, it’s a place for learning, growing, creating, and connecting.
Floor-to-ceiling windows provide natural light on all three levels as well as views of downtown in every direction. Much of the library's book inventory is housed on the first level, along with a large community room and the library's administrative offices. Books for younger readers, including the Ann Lightsey Children's Library, are housed on the second level. There’s also a set of steps and seating tiers dubbed the "story steps" that lead up to a teen loft where young people can hang out, listen to music, play video games, study, read, and relax. Small children have their own creative space where they can explore everything from manufacturing slime to experimentation in robotics.
The Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library features all the amenities you would expect in a modern library—like a computer lab and comfy reading areas—and some that you might find surprising. One of the most interesting amenities is a pair of studios outfitted with recording equipment, including a sound mixer, a keyboard, and a digital interface programmed into Apple Logic Pro X. There’s also a video editing studio. Anyone in the community can use these studios. All you need is a flash drive to record your work and any instruments you want to plug into the system. These recording studios are a gift to our community, and they will undoubtedly be a hotbed of creativity. We can’t wait to discover the podcasts, video productions, oral histories, and music videos that will be created here.
Another surprising amenity is a teaching kitchen with an induction stove, two refrigerators, two microwaves, three prep tables, a dishwasher, and a set of pots, pans, and utensils. Could the next Emeril Lagasse get his start in this kitchen?
The Explore Pine Bluff office is located across the street from the new library, which has given us a ringside seat to the construction activity. The finished project has exceeded our wildest expectations. In unbiased opinion, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library is more beautiful that any library we’ve seen in Central Arkansas, inside and out.
Yes, the library is a catalyst for transformation on every level. It’s a beautiful new addition to the neighborhood, but even more, it’s a place where people young and old can find themselves. Who knows what new ideas will be hatched here, what creative projects will be developed here, what inspiration will be found here? We can’t wait to find out!
Open Monday through Saturday, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library is located at 600 South Main Street in downtown Pine Bluff. To help prevent spread of the virus, sanitizer stations are placed at all entrances and at various sites inside the building. Seating, reading tables, computer stations and other congregation points have been separated to enforce social distancing of patrons to limit the possibility of virus spread. Masks are required, and the library has plenty for those who need them.
Image Credit: Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library