Library Director Unveils White Rock Library Plans

Los Alamos County Library Director Steven Thomas speaks to the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos. Courtesy photo
Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos

Los Alamos County Library Director Steven Thomas spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos April 8, using architectural drawings to illustrate his description of conceptual plans for a new library in White Rock at the corner of N.M. 4 and Sherwood Boulevard.

Thomas, a member of Kiwanis, brought with him Veronica Encinias, the director of the current White Rock Branch Library.

Thomas has been in the county a little over a year, and he and his wife recently bought a home in Los Alamos. (He commented on how nice it is now to be able to walk to work.) Encinias has lived in Los Alamos County for about 10 years and lives in White Rock. She is originally from Arizona, and her husband is from Montreal. Both Thomas and Encinias have library science degrees from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The design firm for the new library project is RMKM Architecture, PC, and the new library will be built by Bradbury Stamm Construction, Inc. Both firms are based in Albuquerque.

The plans, Thomas said, are not yet absolutely final. There might still be a few changes, but the plans show clearly what is intended. The drawings reveal a building with many windows, with rounded corners outside, with open structural steel beams inside, and with interior stone columns suggesting the interesting geography and geology of White Rock.

Thomas said the new library will total 11,000 square feet—about three times the size of the existing branch library, and about 25 percent the size of the main library in Los Alamos. The old branch building, he said, “will become part of an expanded (White Rock) Senior Center.”

The conceptual plans, approved after a series of meetings with the public and the staff, make it clear that the new library will be thoroughly integrated with its surroundings.\:

  • It will be right across from Smith’s.
  • It will be easily accessed by the existing trails and walkways in the area; it will feature a “public plaza.”
  • It will be designed to encourage the display of public art
  • Although it will have adequate parking space (complete with a book drop), it will also preserve the existing basketball court and play lot nearby, even leaving the children’s much-loved rocket in place.
  • Encinias said there will be “minimal disruption to existing structures.”
  • “We want the park to remain open and functional even during construction,” she said.
  • The lighting outside will make use of shielded light emitting diodes (LEDs) to preserve the view of the stars for astronomers and amateur star gazers during Dark Nights in White Rock.

Encinias noted that the new library will have a vestibule where public information can be posted; it will have “numerous computer banks”; and the main service desk will have a direct line of sight into the user areas, something that is essential at times when only one librarian is on duty. There will be both adult and youth collections, of course, and various age groups will have separate areas—but there will also be a place for the entire family. For example, there will be a story-telling area; a study room; a small meeting area; a teen area; and a multipurpose room with seating for 48.

One of the nicest features of the new building will be a cozy fireplace in the periodicals reading room.

Kiwanian Jim Baran asked about funding for the new library. Thomas said the cost will be covered with 100 percent Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funding—and all of the money is already in place.

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