TORII STATION, Okinawa (June 19, 2012) -- After 17 months of renovations, the Torii Station library reopened May 30. The new facility, however, is much more than just a library.

In addition to offering books, movies and music CDs for checkout, the library now also offers free Wi-Fi, free public-use Internet service, computer workstations, a media room, a children's room, and even a full-service coffee shop.

"We're very excited," said librarian Casey Grimmer. "Libraries are going in a new direction. There is less focus on collections and being a warehouse, and more focus on using the space as a common gathering."

The entire facility was gutted and rebuilt. Everything is new, from the plumbing, wiring and flooring to the computers and shelving. The layout is completely different and was redesigned to make it more user-friendly than the old library.

"We have a lot of new [available] books on the bestsellers list, along with current magazines and periodicals," said Justin Evers, chief of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Business and Recreation division at Torii Station. "The Internet section has 10 computer workstations and the Wi-Fi is available on a commercial network."

Nobu Taka Takaesu, whose father worked at the Torii Station Library nearly 40 years ago, attended the grand opening ceremony.

"I'm most grateful to be invited to such a wonderful ceremony," said Takaesu. "Before the reversion of Okinawa, my father worked on this U.S. military base. His last place to work was this library. I cannot believe I am standing here to celebrate the opening of this facility."

One of the new features in the library is a soundproof media room where patrons can watch DVDs, and even play video games online.

The soundproof children's room is stocked with age-appropriate books, a TV, DVDs, a DVD player and a PlayStation 3.

The Pirate Republic Coffee Shop, located inside the library, features a Trifecta unit, essentially an automatic French press. It uses an air-infusion, single-cup process. Torii Station is the first military base in the world to have one. The shop offers freshly brewed coffee and tea, a variety of espresso drinks, and a wide range of Panini sandwiches and pastries.

"You'll be blown away and will never want to go back to regular coffee again," said Evers. "It's like riding in first class: you'll never want to go back to coach."

Page last updated Tue June 19th, 2012 at 08:11