More than a quarter-century after it was first promised, Porter Ranch's library finally opened Thursday, a 12,500-square-foot facility that will link patrons via computers to information far beyond its walls.
Speaking to more than 300 people assembled outside the single-story brick building at 11371 Tampa Ave., city librarian Susan Goldberg Kent noted that the Los Angeles Public Library's 65th branch is the first "virtual electronic branch library," with computer links to databases, newspaper articles and Internet sites.
"Today, when you walk into this library, what's available to you is the world," she said.
The branch can hold up to 50,000 books, she explained, and already the shelves are filled with popular works by Stephen King, Michael Crichton, and at least two dozen of Jackie Collins' sexy potboilers.
Avid reader Shahan Janoyan, 11, playing hooky with his mom, liked the building's "modern" look and said he's glad to finally have a library in his neighborhood.
"It's big and it has the books I like," he said, cradling several of R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" novels.
The city's Library Commission authorized purchase of the parcel of land in 1969, but construction funding did not arrive until the passage of a 1989 bond. The Mid Valley Regional Branch Library in North Hills, the last of three new Valley branches funded by the bond, will open next spring.
Margaret Winters stopped by to pick up a few books by her favorite authors shortly after the library opened, admitting she was a little surprised the branch has no physical card catalogue.
"I guess I'll have to become computer literate," she joked.
At three workstations devoted to the World Wide Web, several senior citizens were doing just that, exploring the distant reaches of the Internet. But as one woman found out by accident, cybersurfing has its pitfalls.
"Welcome to the Porno Gallery," the screen said.