Level Two is a staff-only floor. It houses the Automated Materials Handling System, which requires the assistance of 3 staff members at all times it’s running. This is to ensure that the bins where materials are deposited are being filled correctly and swapped out for empties when needed as well as to report and fix minor jams and problems.
The Shelving Operations department is anchored here on the floor though you’ll see the shelvers out in the stacks when you roam throughout the building, restocking returned items and pulling off requested material to be sent to the proper location to be picked up. Technical and Collections Services is the Library department who are in charge of ordering and processing new materials. Rounding out the floor is Security’s headquarters and the hub for Central Library’s circulation team.
Level three is labeled as The Living Room. It contains a significant number of somewhat comfortable seats to lounge around on as well as the Library’s coffee cart which is one of the only places you’re allowed to eat inside the building. There’s the fiction collection, feature film DVDs and new books on display that have been recently received. As far as services available on this floor, there’s a Teen area that’s reserved for – you guessed it – teens only. A small zine collection, a Young Adult Librarian to assist the teens and an entire row of public computers where no adults are allowed completes the small area.
There’s a relatively new Reader’s Advisory desk in the middle of the floor where a team of librarians with a focus in literature and fiction answer questions about what book to read next. The new, centrally located reference point replaces an awful design that used to have the desk back against the northern wall in a dark, cave-like alcove. Library patrons would have to take a leap of faith that they weren’t being led to an abyss where they’d be jumped and accosted by thugs, but instead be helped by trained and educated information specialists. That old desk is in the midst of a remodel, with new lights to make the space less foreboding and a bar for folks to charge and work on their laptops.
Another circulation desk limited in function when compared to the one on the 1st floor is near an exit that leads out to 5th Ave. There’s no cash register at the desk, so patrons looking to pay fines and fees are directed toward those steep escalators down. Rounding out the floor is a shop run by the Friends of the Seattle Public Library. The store sells all sorts of bibliophile tchatchkes, jewelry, greeting cards and swag – with proceeds going to provide additional programming and materials not covered in the Library’s official budget.
There’s an escalator takes you up to the 5th floor and past one of the most interesting pieces of art you’ll see in the building. Tony Oursler’s Braincast is a unique audio-visual piece that features videos of full faces as well as close-up shots of mouths and eyes projected on to 3 rounded screens while a woman’s voice speaks (yells at times) what sounds to me like gibberish, though I do catch a real word or string of words from time to time. Taking the escalator bypasses the 4th floor, which is where the Library’s IT offices are located as well as a number of meeting rooms that are available for rental. The floor has an eerie Kubrick-esque feel to it with its deep blood-red wall color and rounded edges but also offers a unique viewpoint of the hustle and bustle of the Living Room through a floor-to-ceiling wall window.
Final part coming soon…