Only 15 months after opening, one million visitors have already stepped through the doors of the main Santa Monica Public Library at 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Thatís an average of three to four people entering the library every minute that itís open, said Susan Annett, principal librarian for public services for the City of Santa Monica.

ìThatís quite an achievement in 15 months,î Annett said. ìWe have people lined up here in the morning [before the library opens]. Thatís rarely true of libraries anymore.î

The library, which opened in January last year, keeps track of its visitors through a gate count, Annett said. And Thursday, April 5th, was the day that the library anticipated reaching its millionth visitor.

As a way to celebrate the one million visitors to the new facility and the visitors to come, the main library is celebrating with a carnival event: ìA Million More: Celebrating Our Visitorsî at the Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.

The event, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 14th, will include live music with taiko drummers, games, prizes, food and refreshments. All are welcome to attend.

ìMaybe people who havenít been here yet will come take a look and see what theyíre missing,î said Greg Mullen, Santa Monica city librarian.

Annett says she isnít surprised that the library has seen a million visitors so quickly, especially with the anticipation from the community.

ìWeíve had such a positive, enthusiastic response to this building and the services,î Annett said.

ìWe expected to see an increase in activity here,î said Mullen. ìThis is about a 50 percent increase in activity from the old building.î

Mullen said he was ìpleasantly surprisedî that the library has already seen a million visitors.

ìI hadnít really thought about how long it might take, and a million is a big number,î he said. ìIt didnít seem like weíd hit that number that quickly, but clearly the community is very, very supportive of the libraries.î

Robert Graves, the public services and programming librarian, said he thinks itís amazing that the library has reached the one million mark in such a short time.

ìWorking in the library, Iíve just seen so many people, such a diverse clientele, come through the doors,î said Graves. ìPeople really appreciate the new library. I absolutely love it.î

At 104,000 square feet, the library is much bigger than the old 60,000-square-foot facility, Mullen said. And it also has a 10,000-square-foot central courtyard.

ìThe central courtyard is a big outdoor reading room,î said Mullen. ìAnd in the courtyard, there is a cafÈ, so you can have something to eat, have something to drink and still be in the library. Itís a very, very comfortable environment.î

With the increase in size by 44,000 square feet from the old main library building, Mullen said the library has been able to provide a lot more programming to the public.

Thereís now a dedicated childrenís activity room, which the library didnít have before, and thereís also an auditorium, Mullen noted.

Additionally, the library is offering a lot of new programming with author appearances and book discussion groups, Graves said.

ìWe try to do a diverse slate of authors that people like,î he said. ìWe do concerts to bring in music lovers. Weíve had actors and actresses to try to hit the entertainment aspect of Los Angeles.î

Mullen pointed out that the library is really the ìcornerstone of the community,î a place for everybody.

ìI think itís important to recognize that public libraries still make a different in peopleís lives,î Annett said.

And the library isnít just making a difference in lives, but in the environment as well.

In February, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Main Library the cityís first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating, ìa major achievement in being a green facility,î Annett said.

LEED is a nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The system was created to transform the built environment to sustainability by providing the building industry with consistent, credible standards for what constitutes a green building, says the U.S. Green Building Council.

ìItís exciting to come to work every day in such a wonderful environment, a wonderful building,î Annett said. ìItís just a marvelous environment. And itís a wonderful, sustainable landscape.î

ìWeíre very proud of it,î Graves added.

Information, www.smpl.org/.

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