The Koi Pond in our library’s Grand Atrium is, without a doubt, one of its main attractions. It generates smiles and delighted sighs from adults and kids alike, with its soothing watery sounds and cooling influence on the desertified, air-conditioned atmosphere. When the building was open to the public, appreciative comments about the pond were fielded daily by our librarians, regardless of age; old and young love its presence and ambiance.
Yet most of that delighted public likely has no idea that it did not start out as a pond at all. Quite the opposite, actually. When the library opened its doors on October 26, 1975, patrons were instead wow’d by the sight of an open water-feature, with high-shooting jets rising unguarded from the central floor in what was dubbed “the Fountain of Knowledge.” Such unrestricted access made an arresting impression – for almost two years. Until, as the Desert Sun reported on August 12, 1977, “like the caging of an unruly beast, the library fountain will be fenced-off after claiming four victims.”
“The Palm Springs Library Board,” the Sun continued, “has reluctantly voted to install a circular, 36-inch high wrought iron rail around the fountain because four visitors had fallen in recently. . . . The accidents began to occur after the fountain was shut off because its pump was shooting a surge of water to the library’s ceiling.”
Once secured behind a guard-rail, the “beastly” fountain of knowledge continued its splendor several more years. That is, until our librarians discovered that it was providing too much of a good thing: mildew and mold were starting to grow inside the books! Thus, it was decided to renovate in Summer 1986, when the fountain’s works were removed and a new pump & filtration system installed to maintain a koi pond. Though not quite the showstopper of a previous generation, the koi have continued to draw near-daily ahhhh’s of satisfaction from our patrons over the intervening 35 years. . . and without threatening the half-million books on our shelves! - Jay Dunaway