Library set to reopen Sept. 9
DAVE TICHAVA, a building mechanic with the Sonoma County Library, looks at plans at the library's temporary site in Burlingame Hall.
It'll probably be Friday, Sept. 9, before the Sonoma Valley Regional Library's temporary home in Burlingame Hall is open.
The library's permanent home on West Napa Street closed in July for renovation and seismic upgrades. The books were packed up and moved, awaiting the opening of the library's temporary home in Burlingame Hall at the First Congregational Church, 252 W. Spain St.
Library officials had hoped to open the Burlingame Hall site in mid- to late-August, but that didn't happen.
"It took us longer to get the permits before we could start," said Sandra Cooper, the director of the Sonoma County Library. "And there was some additional work the inspectors wanted us to do."
That included redoing the driveway at Burlingame Hall and making some repairs to the sidewalk.
Cooper said that, following discussions with City Manager Linda Kelly and City Attorney Jeff Walter, and after looking at federal regulations, it was decided that the sought-after repairs didn't apply to the library.
"Linda Kelly and Jeff Walter worked hard to help solve the problem," Cooper said.
But in remodeling Burlingame Hall, the library also ran into a lot of small problems that added up - and added time.
"We're trying to get things approved," Cooper said.
The temporary digs are about a third the size of the Napa Street site, so there won't be quite as many books, although the children's section will be intact.
"I was in Burlingame Hall earlier in the week," Cooper said, "and a little girl and her mother came in. The little girl said, 'I want my library to open. And I want Miss Clare to come back.'"
The improvements and rent for the next 11-plus months will cost the library somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000. Some of the improvements, such as the lighting, will stay behind.
"But at least people will have access to library services," Cooper said. "We're working as fast and as hard as we can to get it open."
Library patrons will also find the library's hours have changed.
As of Aug. 1, the library - as well as the other branches throughout the county - will be open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be closed on Sunday and Monday.
Back in June, when the library's board cut the hours because of a budget crunch, Cooper pointed out that more than 70 percent of the system's expenses are personnel-related.
"This isn't something we wanted to do to save money," she said. "We tried not to reduce services. But you can't continue to offer the same level of services when revenues are dropping."
Even though the library hasn't been open, it hasn't stopped patrons from reserving books. Through last Friday, Cooper said there were an estimated 3,000 to 3,500 books on reserve - and the numbers were growing daily.
"It's going to take two-to-three trucks just to bring the reserve books down," she said.
That little girl, and all the others who have been dropping by Burlingame Hall, now have a book at the end of the tunnel - Sept. 9.