The Kennedy Center's new Performing Arts Library, a joint venture with the Library of Congress, opens today, providing a computer-linked information service to supplement productions there for visitors and performers alike.
The library is located on the top floor of the center with one wall of windows overlooking the city. Its facilities, while small, are compact and contain a computer link to the vast resources of the Library of Congress.
The library will stay open late -- until 8:30 p.m. -- on Fridays and Wednesdays. "Wednesday is a big symphony night," explained Geraldine Otremba, archivist for the Kennedy Center.
"we want it to look accessible," said Peter Fay of the Library of Congress, who will be working out of the new Kennedy Center venture. "There will be low tables, comfortable -- and expensive -- chairs, so if you want to read Opera News for 10 minutes before the performance you can. We want it to look as though its not going to bite. Most libraries are sort of intimidating... And here, you can talk -- but not smoke."
Fay said the Library is not supposed to be a short cut to the Library of Congress, but rather an "up-front shop window to encourage the use of the LC... We call it a joint project, but we're really creating a sort of middle turf."
There will be a "listening table" with headsets and cassette recordings of current Center offerings, and room for 44 users in the main hall. In an adjoining room there will be additional "listening carrels" and a conference room -- available free of charge by appointment -- for up to 30 people.
"People will be able to make an appointment to listen to any of the 750,000 recordings the Library of Congress has, and film researchers can watch movies in the audio-visual area," Otremba said.
For people on the outside, a telephone information service will provide answers to random questions ("Where was Cole Porter born?") or at least suggest a way to get the answer. They also promise to eventually have information on performances in other cities.
A stack of about 3,000 volumes and over 200 periodicals will be available for reading -- but not for circulation.
The library will be open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is on the Roof Terrace (accessible by elevator) near the new Terrace Theater.