The West Hollywood Library opened this past weekend to a lot of fanfare. There was a grand opening day of festivities and a book fair and lots and lots of signage for these events around the city. We stopped by the library yesterday to take a poke around to see what we thought of it. The library is a structural beauty, but it is a little small.
Starting from the outside, the library looks great and fabulously accessorizes with green, blue, and red by way of the Pacific Design Center across the street from it. The exterior of the library is basic, a very modern and open glassy building, with touches of marble and soft stone. There is a little bit of the County of Los Angeles Public Library branding around the outside of it, which would not be a big deal if the logo did not look like the branding for a certain adult boutique on Santa Monica Blvd. Details, County of Los Angeles Public Library, details!
The outside also features three giant art pieces, which beautify the sides and back of the parking deck. The South piece is a giant Retna, which is beautiful and blue and goes perfectly with the blue side of the PDC poking out in the distance. The Westside of the building features a giant piece: Shephard Fairey’s Peace Elephant. The piece is gorgeous and gigantic and even has a little OBEY logo hidden within it. The Northside features a silly Kenny Scharf, whose little guys jump around everywhere. A tip, though: if you’d like to snap a photo, it’s best to take it from the atrium across from it.
The inside of the library was a treat and the best part about the library. It’s very sleek and crisp, with subtle lighting and unique reading rooms. There is a giant tree that lines the staircase with a skylight above that really opens up the middle of the space. The second floor, where the main stacks are, is the best part. With an embellished ceiling, all glass walls that lookout at the city, and amazing seating areas, you feel like you are in a bookstore more than a library. There are ample modern looking desks and chairs for people to work from and, surprisingly, there were tons of adults and children working away there. It was highly reminiscent of a library a university would have for its students. That is a very high compliment, coming from a guy who worked at a university library for two years and loved every minute of it.
That being said, it’s small. Like, really small. There are only two working floors which seems to have a paltry selection of books. There is a large DVD library, which is great, and a cute kid’s library quadrant filled with kids reading (!!!), but it was not a lot. For a while, we walked around looking for another staircase to a third floor, but it did not exist (at least not for patrons). Below the two library floors was a meeting room and the parking deck, which were very pretty with marble walls and a Shephard Fairy wall mural of West Hollywood. But, that space is not library space: it’s for parking and civic meetings. Although the facility was not filled to the brim while we were there, it very well could get packed. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is impossible to get lost in the library because it’s so small.
The library is great and we will definitely be going back. However, if you go expecting the Seattle Central Library, you will only be rewarded with two floors of that library you were hoping for.