PUNTA GORDA — The 20,000-square-foot Punta Gorda Charlotte Library opens today at 10 a.m. at the library's new location, 401 Shreve St.

Its new location is just around the corner from its previous location on West Henry Street, where it's been in operation since 1974. 

The location, doubled in size from the previous building, comes with many improvements and innovative additions to enhance residents' library experience. 

"The modern library, it's not just about books anymore," said Charlotte County spokesperson Brian Gleason.

With that in mind, that's why the new location integrated audio, video, hands-on experiences, digital media and more.

"Kids are born digital nowadays, we want to reach people how they want to consume media, and evolve as our patrons do," Gleason said.

The Sun toured the facility Friday before it officially opened to the public. 

Hereare  some of the highlights:

RFID technology on book returns: To enhance the ease of returning materials, residents will scan their card and place their books in one of the shelves, which will then print out a receipt to confirm your return. Gleason said this will help to avoid books that were returned being lost or unaccounted for. 

Mary Knowlton Teen Room: Mary Knowlton, former president of the Friends of the Punta Gorda Library, who was killed in 2016 in a police safety demonstration gone wrong, championed for the new location to have a space for kids and teens to have to themselves, apart from the rest of the library. This, she believed, would encourage kids to want to spend time in the library, and reduce distractions for other patrons. The Friends of the Punta Gorda Library paid to furnish the kids and teen rooms, and in turn asked the county if the room could be named in her honor. 

In the teen room, there are swivel chairs, so kids can move around while they're relaxing. There is also a TV, where teens can hook up noise-cancelling headphones to watch a movie in the space, without bothering other patrons using the room.

Laptop Kiosk: Guests can check out a laptop from the laptop kiosk to use for two to three hours while on the library premises. IT coordinator of library and history division Chris Carbone explained residents will scan their card, the machine will take their photo and ask a few questions, then the machine will eject the computer with the greatest battery power. 

Computer cubicles: Guests can use their library cards to sign on to the computers. Computers have a cubicle-type divider between them to allow for privacy while working. 

Email: Brianna.Kwasnik@yoursun.com

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