Chris Barnickel, the county’s director of libraries, set out to create a “bitchin’” library, and the newly renovated San Luis Obispo Library delivers on several fronts including a creative lab equipped with image and video editing software, a 700-square-foot teen space complete with gaming consoles and a foosball table, and an ambiance that encourages interaction among patrons.

Traditionalists worry not, there is still 3,000 square feet dedicated to the idyllic library services we all know and love, to go along with study rooms and bean bag chairs.

A lot can be said about Barnickel and the antithesis of the stereotypical librarian that he appears to be. He mountain bikes, rides motorcycles, doesn’t wear glasses, and he often talks loudly. But behind the shortly cropped hair and full beard, the county’s head librarian is a true believer in the power of the written word and importance of library’s role in a community.

The Missouri transplant, and proud holder of one of the most dangerous master’s degrees out there, Library Sciences, recently slowed down long enough to share a fact about libraries that you may not know, a word that we had to copy and paste into Google, and whether or not shushing is still the best way to silence someone.

What is your favorite word?

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A Toys-R-Us-Kid

Which literary character do you most identify with?
I love Michael Ende’s character, Momo.

What is your perfect Sunday?
Some ‘me time’ on one of my bicycles or motorcycles, a long nap, and family time with my girls.

Do you find yourself talking quietly when you are not at the library?

Favorite book?
There are too many great books. I love William Least Heat-Moon’s works. I could listen to All Quiet on the Western Front over and over though.

Are graphic novels really novels?
Depends upon whether you mouth the words you’re tracing with your finger when you read the comics.

Most underrated book of all time?
Anything by Bill O’Reilly…I appreciate that he still writes in crayon.

Fiction or nonfiction?
Both. I love adventure narratives, but a great piece of fiction or well-written non-fiction keeps me captivated.

Print or Kindle?
Each has its time and place.

Is shushing still the best course of action to silence someone?
No, food usually is.

Favorite library? Other than SLO of course.
The one on Higuera.

One fact about libraries that people don’t know?
Wherever you find yourself, it’s always the tallest building around…because it has so many stories.

What do you think when you think about libraries?
People and endless possibilities.