New Library's Doors Proving a Challenge

by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer        

(Sunday, April 15, 2007 8:41 AM EDT)

The county government's new Shirlington branch library is proving a bit difficult to get into. And while crowds are up from the library's former location, that's not the main culprit.

The entrance doors are not working as planned all of the time, making them heavy and difficult to open. Buttons that are supposed to trigger the doors to open automatically also are not working at all times.

“[The doors] are supposed to be feather-weight,” said Shirlington branch manager Susan McCarthy in a recent interview. “It was meant to be easy.”

The basic cause for the malfunction, library officials say, is people tugging on the doors when the library is closed and locked.

“We regret that it's not functioning all the time, and we've taken some steps to get them fixed,” McCarthy said. “It's tough to navigate if you're a parent with a stroller, or handicapped.”

The library is working through the problem with the Department of Environmental Services, but library officials are unsure when the problem will be fixed.

The Shirlington branch staff are aware of the problem and have been asked to pay special attention to the doors in case someone needs assistance.

The problem is not unique to the library. Doors leading to Signature Theatre, which shares the facility in Shirlington with the library, have the same problems.

Other than the doors, no other construction concerns have surfaced, and library officials have said they are pleased with the community turnout at the branch.

“This is typically the shakeout period when you find out if things will go as predicted or not, because people are streaming in,” said Arlington library director Diane Kresh. “My sense is things are going quite well and seem to be in good shape.”

“We're happy in the new space,” McCarthy said. “We were really crowded before, and it's nice to have space for more activities.”

The new library opened March 18. It replaced a temporary facility located in a storefront in nearby Shirlington Village.

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