By contributor Alison Cheung.

After six months of renovations, the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library is back up and running.

Built in 1996, the Harbourfront Library “was due for some updates,” said , Branch Manager. Initially, the building was simply used as storage for books, but now it is “more active.”

The second floor has been completely remodeled to become what is now called the Creativity Commons—a facility where individuals or small groups can use up-to-date computers and gadgets. The space consists of three areas: Story Lab, Make and Break Lab, and Family History. All are free to the public and intended to promote learning.

The Story Lab boasts an espresso book machine, which is exactly what it sounds like: a bookmaker. Simply insert a USB stick, and the machine will convert a Word document into a printed book—completely bound and covered. The section also includes studio quality headphones, USB microphones, and HD Camcorders for those who are interested in recording music or podcasts. There is also a VHS converter available.

Aptly named, The Make and Break Lab is for tinkering. “It has special computers about the size of a credit card where people can come and connect wires and program it, and things like that,” said Saffari. The section also includes a large flat screen TV that people can use to prepare for presentations.

The Family History area contains an impressive Genealogy collection and a computer with access to <ancestry.com>, which allows people to search their family history. Customers can print off relevant information using the scanners and printers which are conveniently placed in the vicinity. In addition, the section boasts an extensive collection of old Nanaimo newspapers on microfilm—most of which are exclusive and not available for viewing online.

Downstairs, “everything is new,” Saffari said. “The flooring, the lighting, the colour scheme, and the furniture are all new.” Shorter shelves allow more natural light to come in. “The library is so bright and open since we got rid of the tall shelves,” he adds. The computer area is equipped with 32 public computers, which “have proved to be very popular,” according to the manager. Due to the “soft opening,” Saffari says that turnover is quiet at the moment; however, he expects it to pick up once people realize that Harbourfront is open for business. Previously, the branch would see approximately 700 to 1000 customers a day, far more than what they are seeing at the moment. He hopes the celebration will inform the public of their re-opening.

The celebration is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m, November 7. Guests can expect a fun celebration with music, refreshments, and snacks. There will be a blessing with First Nations elders, and a short speech by Board members. For the kids, the Kerplunks will be performing as well. Everyone is welcome.

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