New technology library opens today

Lolita Harper

COSTA MESA -- What is a library without books?

The question is not the opening line to a favorite riddle of local

bibliophiles. It is a question that surrounds -- and practically

describes -- the city's new library that opens today.

The Costa Mesa Technology Branch Library celebrates not only the

inauguration of a new branch in the city, but of a new concept for the

Orange County Public Library system.

Tom Egan, the president of the Costa Mesa Library Foundation, said the

new branch marks another first for Costa Mesa and proves the city's

enterprising nature.

"We are a prudent city, and we like to get the most bang for our

buck," Egan said. "Why spend money on real estate when the Internet

offers more and more information that is getting to be pretty good."

The 2,400-square-foot library will offer 27 computer stations that

provide access to the Internet and the Orange County Public Library

catalog, databases and computer programs. There is minimal print

material, consisting of a modest collection of technology-related books,

children's and young adult paperbacks, a bestseller rental collection,

and local and regional newspapers.

People will also be able to order books from the other 28 Orange

County Public Library branches and pick them up at the Costa Mesa

Technology Branch.

The new branch is also braving new territory because it will operate

from leased space, rather than a building owned by the city.

Costa Mesa is part of the Orange County Public Library system, along

with 23 other cities, said Assistant City Manager Anne Schultz. The city

owns the two buildings where the existing Costa Mesa branches are, but

the county operates them. In the case of the new library, the county

entered into a five-year lease with a private landowner.

Libraries in the county's system are funded by property taxes of

member cities, County Librarian John Adams said, with each city receiving

service funds according to a formula.

Because of an unexpected increase in revenue-based funds, the Costa

Mesa City Council was able to choose how it wanted Orange County Public

Library system to spend the money in Costa Mesa, officials said.

Egan called it a good use of the funds. The branch is a sign of the

future of libraries, he said. While the computers will help neighborhood

students and adults gain access to the World Wide Web, traditional

libraries still hold an important function.

"But of course, you can't curl up in bed with a good computer," Egan



* WHAT: Costa Mesa Technology Library grand opening

* WHEN: 9:30 a.m. today

* WHERE: 3033 S. Bristol St., Costa Mesa, in the Costa Mesa Village

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