The City of Santa Monica opened the doors at a new 104,000-square-foot Main Library after nine years of planning and construction Saturday, January 7th.

The $57.7 million “green” building is expected to serve as a gathering place and resource center for the entire city.

Santa Monica-based architect Moore Ruble Yudell designed the environmentally friendly library to showcase its reading areas, community rooms and books through two-story window walls that face the street and provide views to the ocean.

A cafÈ, wireless access throughout the building, face-out shelving, and outdoor garden areas allow visitors to experience a bookstore feel.

Expanded print and electronic resources, with periodical files dating back 100 years that were previously inaccessible to the public in closed stacks, are now available to the public in easier formats.

The library will also be home to the 140-seat Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, and the Friends of the Library store.

The 300,000-plus items, includidng books, tapes, DVDs and compact disks, will be equipped with radio frequency identification technology tags that protect them from theft and allow library patrons to use self-service checkout stations.

Public art displayed at the library includes Underwater Canopy, by Carl Cheng, relocated from the old Main Library, and panels of a Stanton Macdonald-Wright mural which had been removed and stored at a Smithsonian Institution Warehouse when a still earlier Main Library was demolished in the 1960s.

More than 500 subterranean parking spaces are available at the building.

City officials are applying for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification for the library’s sustainability features.

Those features include underfloor air distribution, a 200,000-gallon rainwater storage system that will recycle water for landscape irrigation, solar panels, recycled construction materials, and a window covering system that allows maximum daylight, which improves energy efficiency.

The library is at 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Information, (310) 458-8600 or