Final preparations are under way at the Central Arkansas Library System's new Children's Library and Learning Center — a $13 million project set to open to the public for the first time Saturday.
Watch a video tour of the new facility in the player at left or in a larger version here.
The 30,000-square foot facility, the 13th branch of the library system, sits on six acres at 4800 W. 10th St., just south of Interstate 630 from the War Memorial Park area.
"It's a place where families can come and really be enriched from a lot of different aspects from our building and our services," said facility manager Sarah McClure. "I think a lot of the people that work here, this is a dream job for us ... It's going to be an amazing resource."
The library, which was funded by a bond issue approved by voters in 2007, has an array of features designed with children in mind, including a computer lab reserved for users 18 and under, a large theater that spans the structure's two stories, and a greenhouse and kitchen for teaching about growing and cooking food.
It also boasts more than 21,000 books, DVDs and CDs, and grounds designed to reflect Arkansas's topography. The landscape is dotted with native trees and the library stands adjacent to wetlands that channel the large water runoff from the nearby interstate into an attractive feature.
Susan Hill Gele, spokesman for the library system, said families were already visiting the walking paths that circle the library in the weeks before the Saturday opening. Some have even likened the design to the popular Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
"That's really a powerful thing for families who don't always have a lot of time to be together," she said of the outdoor experience. "For them to have a space that's dedicated just to being space, I think is important."
The library will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.