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Pinellas Park library ready to show new digs

(ran East, South, West editions)

The library has added a snack nook, computers and lots of new space.

If it's good enough for Barnes & Noble, why shouldn't it be good enough for the Pinellas Park Library?

That's the idea behind the beverage and snack nook at the library, which has undergone a $2.5-million renovation and expansion.

But don't look for freshly concocted lattes, espressos, Frappuccinos and scones. Do expect machine-dispensed coffees, sodas and plastic-wrapped snacks. Nonetheless, it's one of the new amenities to be found at the refurbished library at 7770 52nd St. N.

On March 26 residents can see it all for themselves. A "soft" opening has been scheduled, though problems with the carpet installation could cause a delay, said Barbara Ponce, community activities administrator and library director.

The grand opening, however, is expected to take place as planned during National Library Week, April 1-7. The opening day program, from 1 to 5 p.m., will feature magician Marty Hahne, tours, music, clowns and face painting. Activities also have been planned for the rest of the week. Included will be a presentation by Michele Lott as Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie books, storytelling by local children's author Billie Noakes, and an exhibit by artist Jackson Walker, whose paintings represent historic Florida.

Mrs. Ponce can't wait to show off the new facility to Pinellas Park's 44,000 residents.

"They're going to see a great big meeting room," she said.

"There is going to be a big, new area for study. There's going to be a larger area for reading, more space for the children, a special children's activity room of their own. We more than doubled our space. It is going to be a wonderful space for our people."

Mrs. Ponce said the library has 23,500 card holders.

"My goal is to have everyone with a library card," she said.

The library has about 100,000 books, documents, computers, magazines, tapes and other items, she said. And more computers will be available.

"We will have three times more computers for our children and adults," Mrs. Ponce said.

The Friends of the Library group also will open a gift shop to sell donated books and other items.

The library has been operating from ParkSide mall during the more than yearlong renovation. Mrs. Ponce is happy the hiatus is over.

"We always longed for home," she said.