Check This Out: SC Library To Get Makeover

Current interior of San Carlos Library

With libraries around the country high on hit lists for budget cuts, the San Carlos Library is a bright spot in this gloomy economy.  The library is set for an interior renovation; construction to begin sometime after July 12th 2012 when the next fiscal cycle begins.

So who and/or what is coughing up the cash for a library makeover at a time like this?

Unlike many other public libraries, the city doesn’t run the library.  So the City of San Carlos can’t, say, cut its budget and redistribute the savings to some other well-deserving but needy department (like Fire).   As Christine Boland, SC City Clerk and city rep on the project explained, the library is operated under the San Mateo Joint Powers Authority, made up of eight Peninsula cities plus Half Moon Bay and Pacifica (and unincorporated areas of the county).

Boland said some of the money for the remodeling project will come from the JPA, some from the City of San Carlos Library Building Fund (restricted so it can’t be spent on other stuff), some from a $200,00+ bequest by a generous SC resident and some from The Friends of the San Carlos Library.   (The highly organized, uber-fundraisers who know a thing or two about raking in bucks…one donated book at a time).

Interior renovation thanks, partly, to book sales fundraising by Friends of San Carlos Library

The plan to refresh the library’s interior is still in the planning phase.   Last night, the architecture firm hired to do the renovation held a second public workshop that gave attendees a chance to offer suggestions.  (And given the chance certain people are inclined to go for it, if you know what I mean).

Unfortunately, despite strategically placed posters encouraging people to attend, only 13 showed up for the first workshop.   (The Laurel Street Spy didn’t attend either, but managed to show up for most of the second)  This means the two design scenarios presented Wednesday evening were based on the feedback of those 13 along with input gathered from an online survey (only 39 respondents!) plus, naturally, recommendations from library staff.

Why, you ask, is a renovation needed when the library isn’t that old?

Brad Cox of Anderson Brule’ Architects (based in San Jose) – hired to handle the project – explained the SC library was actually designed in the early nineties, although it didn’t open until the later part of the decade.   Significant because so much has evolved since then, like the internet, digital media, computers and, of course, library services.

All that plus the fact that the SC Library is so heavily used:  600,000+ items circulated each year (!).   Astounding for a population of some 28,000 residents.  With so many patrons hanging around, it’s not surprising the place has suffered some wear and tear and needs new carpet, paint, furniture and moving around service areas to maximize efficiency.

Below is a partial list – emphasis on partial!!! – list of items that Anderson Brule is taking under consideration as it continues to work on several design scenarios…incorporating public and staff suggestions.    The designs will eventually come before a public session of the City Council where a final budget and next steps will be decided:

What’s NOT Working:  automated self-service; DVDs and periodicals too hard to browse.

Split feedback on color palette:  nice vs. too bland/uniform

Things to improve:  lighting (too low); no dedicated space for teens; patios not integrated; children’s area (make it more fun and colorful)

Things people would like to see: more books, a cafe, more children’s programs

Elements to add: Computer lab/classroom setting; dedicated teen space

Existing elements to improve:  circulation desk and layout, vary the seating areas.

Based on feedback to two possible designs, it’s back to the drawing board for Anderson Brule.  Suggestions will be incorporated and numbers will be run so a budget can be determined.





Filed Under: Column 1San Carlos News


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  1. [...] For an earlier story on the remodel, click here. [...]

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