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Leon County Opens Lake Jackson Branch Library

Northwest Tallahassee has a new library. On Tuesday morning, Leon County commissioners cut the ribbon at the Lake Jackson Branch Library in the Huntington Oaks shopping center on North Monroe Street.

Within minutes of the grand opening ceremony, the books were already flying off the shelves and onto the check-out counter. Bonnie Bell was one of the first in line, with a stack of about ten books. She says, she’d been coming to the previous Lake Jackson Library since it opened in 1991.

"My god, I walked in today, and I thought, 'This is great. This is really…it’s beautiful, it’s clean, it’s new. Everything here is just spotless," she says.

Bell was one of dozens of people who showed up for the grand opening. The new facility is nearly twice as big as the previous Lake Jackson Library, which was a few doors down in the same shopping center.

Michael Cook, who lives nearby, was browsing the DVD section. He says the new facility is a big improvement.

“Oh, it’s a lot more spacious. It’s just great. They have a lot more computers. It’s just totally better," he says.

And Carrie Huffman brought her four young daughters to the new, much larger kids' section.

“We are so excited," she said. "All they talked about for the last week is coming here today.”

With more space in the kids’ section, the library will offer story time every Wednesday morning at 11. And for older patrons, there’s a quiet reading room, which was something added to the plan after the county took input from the public.

The commission had originally planned to build a new library from the ground up, but, Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi says, even though the cost to renovate this space was about the same, using an existing building was more eco-friendly.

“I tell people, ‘recycle’ is overrated. ‘Reuse’ is really where it is, and that’s what we’re doing right here in this complex," he says.

The library was partially funded with a grant from the state of Florida. The Huntington Oaks plaza will also be the future home of the Northwest Tallahassee Community Center, which is under construction next door. And the county plans to put in new sidewalks along Fred George Road to make the whole area more walkable.