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TECHNOLOGY : New High-Tech Venice Library Opens Aug. 12


Venice is revving up for its entry onto the information superhighway.

After years of planning, the community will finally get a new, architecturally innovative, high-tech library Aug. 12.

The Venice-Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch library, 501 S. Venice Blvd., will have 10,500 square feet of space, 40,000 books--a third more than the area's existing library--and an automated catalogue system and computers for on-line access.

"It will be a populist way for people to get on the Internet," said Bob Reagan, public information director for the Los Angeles Public Library. "You won't have to own a computer or a modem to take advantage of all the technology available."

The library will start with 14 computers, and 12 of those will have access to the Internet within two months. Library staff will be trained to assist the public in surfing the 'Net.

The branch opening comes at a time when other Southland cities and Los Angeles County are cutting their library services and beginning to shut some facilities because of budget shortfalls. But city officials say that public support has allowed Los Angeles to continue expanding its library system.

City library funding for the fiscal year 1995-96 will grow 10%. The number of branches next year will increase from 63 to 66 with 25 new branches currently being planned, city officials say.

Venice is already reaping the benefits. Library employees say the new $3.5-million branch will come equipped with educational computer software, laser printers, a large community room, and a 44-space parking lot.

"This library will move us into the 21st Century--our computerized card catalogues will connect our branch with the whole city library system," said Shawna Saavedra, children's librarian at the Venice branch.

Employees are already preparing to move about 30,000 books from the community's current location at 610 California Ave., which will close its doors on Saturday.

Library officials are seeking volunteers to assist with the large-scale move as well as donations of any surplus computer equipment. Those interested are asked to call Lenore Ritkes at (310) 823-8388.

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