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The room was completely redesigned by library staff, will be used primarily as an event space

{img:194068}Recent visitors of the West Linn Public Library may have noticed some subtle changes in layout.

The used bookstore, which was once housed downstairs in the children's area, now occupies a former conference room upstairs near the computer area. And in the bookstore's place downstairs is a brand-new room dubbed The Hollow, which had its grand opening Wednesday, March 21.

The room, which was completely redesigned by library staff, will be used primarily as an event space for children and teen programs.TIDINGS PHOTOS: PATRICK MALEE - The Hollow, which was placed in the former home of the used bookstore, will be used as an event space for children and teens.

"The genesis of all of this is we've been a victim of our own successes," Library Director Doug Erickson said. "(During) storytime and our children's programs — with (Children's Librarian) Sarah (Flathman) coming on board and really emphasizing that component — we really have space issues. And not being able to expand, we were looking at ways we could reuse library space."

The Hollow, which features an open space as well as several work tables, is expected to be far more accommodating to the array of children and teen programs run through the library while also creating a clear delineation between the adult and kid sections of the building.

"It allows us to really have a children's library, a youth library, downstairs, and a more integrated adult component upstairs," Erickson said. "It really allows that to happen more seamlessly, and it works out well."

Staff put considerable thought into the name of the new room before settling on The Hollow.

"We wanted a name that sounded cool, concise and short, but that also captured the cozy space of the room," Flathman said. "We loved the idea of playing with trees as well — a reference to that, with all of our beautiful glass displaying the trees outside. It was kind of inspired by that — embracing the way the room is."

Erickson said staff took care of much of the repurposing work — including a repainting of the downstairs room — and bought used tables and chairs in bulk at low prices. In total, the project cost less than $20,000.

"And the fact that we were able to capture space that already physically existed, it's a lot more cost-effective than having to try and go out and build something as an add-on," Erickson said.

For now, The Hollow will be closed when it isn't being used for official library programs, but Erickson said staff is open to ideas about expanding its use at some point down the line.

"We're still working on that idea," he said. "Because of the way it's located down the hall, we kind of want it to be used when staff can be available to do it, because it's kind of isolated. ... It won't be a place where overflow will happen."

The bookstore — which is now called the Book Nook instead of Book Cellar due to its relocation upstairs — has also thrived since the change, according to Erickson.

"It's in a smaller area, but we think it's better and it's been doing very well from a financial standpoint — in fact, better than the old bookstore did," Erickson said.

"We think it's partly because of the accessibility, people being able to see it. ... And it's open all the time, so instead of it being staffed, people just take their books to circulation and they're able to purchase them there."

To learn more about The Hollow and The Book Nook, visit https://westlinnoregon.gov/library.

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