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Buh-Bye, Books? Newport Beach Library Mulls Makeover

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NEWPORT BEACH (CBS) — Is it still a library if you can’t find anything to read?

That’s the question facing officials in Newport Beach, who are weighing a plan to close the city’s original library and replace it with a brand-new community center that would offer many of the same features — and maybe even some books as well.

City Manager Dave Kiff tells KNX 1070 the city looked at reasons why people come to the libraries, and books were pretty far down on the list.

“Do they come for Wi-Fi? Do they come for a quiet place to study?…Do they come to look at newspapers or periodicals? Do they come for kids’ programming, like summer reading or kids story time? All of those are big yeses,” said Kiff.

“The next question, though, is do they come to check out the books in the stacks?…Those are moving kind of slowly at this branch,” Kiff added.

KIff says the community center would keep a robust kids programming element, including kids books, but the other stacks would be moved to other libraries.

Despite the proposed changes, plans are being considered for patrons to order and pick up books at the branch using a system much like Netflix.

“If you’re at home, you can get on the computer, you can have a whole queue of books…when they’re ready, we will deliver them to you if you’d like,” Kiff said.

While Kiff says this could be the future for small branch libraries, he says the decision to overhaul the branch isn’t finalized yet, and it would still take a few years before the transformation into a fully-functional community center is complete.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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