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New Slover Library in Norfolk to open on Jan. 9

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The new $65 million Slover Library in Norfolk will open to the public on Jan. 9 amid celebrations showcasing its innovative features.

The 138,000-square-foot building is being hailed as a new model for public libraries because it will offer much more than books.

Patrons will be able to reserve rooms for events and meetings, use touchscreens for researching their family trees and have access to computer and lab rooms, including space and equipment for producing videos.

“Today’s exceptional libraries are more than books, history and technology,” Harry Lester, president of Slover Library Foundation, said in a statement. ”The Slover provides our region with a centrally located, extraordinary place that will encourage community engagement and promote thoughtful conversations on issues important to our 1.7 million residents. It will be a place to participate in local democracy.”

The library at 235 E. Plume St. in Norfolk encompasses three centuries of downtown architecture: the historic Seaboard building (1800s), the Selden Arcade (1900s) and a new six-story tower that connects them all.

Newman Architects from New Haven, Conn. designed the building.

The library also will offer:
·        A place to dine with Slover, a 52-seat casual bistro with additional outdoor seating,
•      More than 160,000 books,
•      Digital Media Lab to design and produce digital content,
•      Multi-touch interactive experience showcasing the Sargeant Memorial Collection, the premier source for local history on the East Coast, with thousands of pieces of searchable photos and artifacts,
•      130 public access computers with Internet access,
•      Free Wi-Fi and
•      Self checkout

In 2008, Frank Batten Jr. donated $20 million for a new main public library to be named after his uncle Col. Samuel Slover to recognize his contributions to Norfolk. The Batten Foundation later donated an additional $20 million. Slover was the founder of Landmark Communications and a former mayor of Norfolk.

The city of Norfolk committed $22.6 million to Slover Library, and the remainder was collected from private contributions through the Slover Library Foundation.

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