Sarasota County Libraries Director Sarabeth Kalajian once saw a library in Nova Scotia that shared a building with a post office.
But, Kalajian thinks the most innovative co-located library she has visited was one that shared a building with a laundromat.
Kalajian will get to see the same type of library pioneering in Sarasota County Feb. 19, when the Gulf Gate Library collection debuts at Westfield Sarasota Square Mall.
The new location will open in the 20,000-square-foot space next to JCPenny, and across from an ice-skating rink, Feb. 19, according to a Sarasota County press release.
County commissioners Nov. 13 approved a 25-month lease effective the following month with Sarasota Shoppingtown LLC, the property owner, for the space to temporarily house the Gulf Gate Library collection.
The county will pay $5,400 per month for the space, according to the lease agreement.
The result of the experiment could change the way the county places libraries, Kalajian said during a Jan. 21 phone interview.
“There are a lot of communities that put their libraries in malls,” Kalajian said. “There are some really interesting opportunities there.”
The permanent library is located in a residential zone abutting a public golf course, so the amount of foot traffic will be greater at the new location.
Non-library users may become users if they pass the new location while shopping at Sarasota Square Mall, or as Kalajian learned after recent inquiries, if they work at mall stores or restaurants.
“It just changes the whole idea of a public library,” Kalajian said.
Moving contractors will transplant each row of bookshelves into a transport unit so they can be unloaded at Sarasota Square Mall without interrupting the Dewey Decimal System order.
Though the organizational system will remain intact, longtime Gulf Gate Library patrons may be surprised by the open space and lack of room divisions at the temporary location, which is 1.5 miles from its permanent location.
“It’s kind of a fun process to watch,” Kalajian said.