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Lights shine out to the night sky from the south side of Norman Public Library Central as readers use the children’s services area on the first floor.

Featured Article

After Years of Planning and Two Decades of Discussion

Norman Public Library Central Opens Its Doors

Library service in Norman has taken a huge leap forward with the opening of the new Norman Public Library Central, the flagship library for the Pioneer Library System.

And since its opening in early November, the library has seen thousands of residents pass through its doors, including many who hadn’t been inside a library for years.

“It had been quite a few years since we had been to the library, but we wanted to see what this was about,” said Jeffrey Long, who along with his children were among the many visitors on the library’s opening day. “We’re amazed at everything there is to see and do. I can promise we won’t wait years to come back again.”

Located at 103 W. Acres St., the three-story, 78,000-square-foot facility features a collection of some 270,000 items. It sports multiple meeting and study rooms, more than 50 public computers and dedicated spaces for family history research, a maker lab, a bookstore operated by the Friends of the Norman Library and more.

The library is one of multiple projects made possible from the Norman Forward quality-of-life package, which Norman voters passed by a wide margin in a 2015 election. Norman Public Library East, which opened in July 2018, also was a project that was funded through Norman Forward.

The new library has been a community project throughout, from the Norman Forward vote, to a series of public meetings hosted by MSR Design—the architectural firm for the library project—and many years of planning and discussion dating back nearly two decades.

Feedback from these meetings helped to outline many of these functions and features members of the public wanted to see inside the library.

As with many of the Norman Forward projects, public art is an important aspect and is evident for anyone viewing the building from the south. The sculpture “Unbound” sits to the south of the building, rising some 30 feet into the air.

The sculpture was selected to be part of the library by the Norman Arts Council from more than 200 applicants for the project. Its designer, Paul Cocksedge, visited Norman from London for a dedication ceremony in July.

“I believe it elegantly reminds us of how the pages of “Unbound” represent the pages of a book, highlighting our beginning with paper and serving as an anchor to this 21st-century library building,” said Lisa Wells, Pioneer Library System executive director.

Along with Norman Public Library West—which opened in 2013—and Norman East, the new Central library will help serve a Norman community that today houses some 125,000 residents. At the time the previous single location on North Webster Avenue opened its doors in 1966, Norman’s population numbered just about 30,000.

And after two decades of community collaboration to make this building a reality, the final product already is paying great dividends for the city’s residents.

“The things that we are doing in this library are so different than the things we were doing 20 years ago, but they’re still very relevant to the needs of our users,” Wells said.

  • The “Unbound” sculpture sits just outside the southwest entrance of the new Norman Public Library Central.
  • Lights shine out to the night sky from the south side of Norman Public Library Central as readers use the children’s services area on the first floor.
  • Library staff member Aaron Pence shows off features of the Norman Public Library Central Maker Lab to a group of visiting Girl Scouts.
  • A young visitor looks over some of the features in the children’s services area of the new Norman Public Library Central.

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