If you tell your kid you’re taking him to a library on Highway 31, that’s one thing. But if you tell him you’re taking him to a Library in the Forest, that is something else entirely. What kid wouldn’t want to go? It sounds like an enchanted tree house, a place of storybooks.
Well, it practically is, and it’s real now for Birmingham. After diligent planning and fund raising, Vestavia Hills has realized its vision of a Library in the Forest.
The hype over this library is that it is a “green” building, the first LEED certified library in the state. It’s designed with minimal impact on the surrounding woodlands and makes use of the latest energy-efficient products. Beyond that, though, this library shatters the old, stodgy image of libraries with fluorescent tubes buzzing above a labyrinth of shelves and dead-end corners. Instead, it’s bright and open, with emphasis on the view into the surrounding tress rather than a manicured landscape.
Finally, we are capitalizing on some of our best features in Birmingham: Lush trees and mountain top views for miles. Indeed, why do we ever clear cut and flatten a swath of beautiful woodland when there are innovative ways to develop it otherwise?
As the Library in the Forest shows, we can still have our tree house. The view into the woods is like a big dose of calm hidden away from the busy streets nearby. There is area outside for enjoying dappled shade, sure to be refreshing in pleasant weather. The Children’s Department now has adequate space for energetic young minds, along with its robust program of Toddler Time, Family Nights and book groups. Moms will love finding a zen moment within the cathedral-like expanse of glass and sunlight.
Of all the things we cajole and bribe the kids to do – brush teeth, do homework, write a thank-you note – persuading them to visit a Library in the Forest shouldn’t be a hard sell.