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Upcoming Meetings for New El Cerrito Library Ideas

The recently launched El Cerrito New Library Campaign will hold meetings on Aug. 2 and Aug. 18 to collect suggestions for replacing the city's aging and cramped current library.

Local residents will have the chance to share ideas for a new city library during two community meetings in August sponsored by the recently formed El Cerrito New Library Campaign.

The meetings are scheduled for Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the  at 6510 Stockton Ave.

The topics up for discussion include what features and services a new library should offer, how the library's new location should be chosen, and whether the library should be combined with other city facilities, according to a news release from the campaign committee.

Tom Panas, one of the seven committee members, said the group wants to solicit as many ideas and suggestions from residents as possible.

Until the committee has an idea of what residents want in a new library, Panas said, it is premature to estimate the cost or predict where the new library may be located.

“But beyond that, our goal is to ferret out what the community wants a new facility to include and to build enthusiasm in the community for that facility, not to raise money for it or to have any part in actually building it,” he said.

The funding and building will need to involve the city, which owns the library building, and the Contra Costa County Library system, operates the library.

County Librarian Barbara Flynn said the county is aware of the local committee’s efforts to collect ideas and raise support, and she said the county will become involved when appropriate in the long-term future.

“The group is taking the necessary steps,” she said. “The county library will be very ready, willing, and able to assist in anyway when it gets to that stage.”

The New Library Campaign seeks to tap into a strong community desire to rebuild the library, which first opened in 1949 and was expanded in 1960.

In sponsored by the City of El Cerrito, residents were asked how important it is to improve four city facilities: the Library, the Senior Center, City Hall (old one), and the Public Safety Building. Although the Library led with 67 percent of respondents saying it was "essential" or "very important" to improve, a new City Hall was built, and funding hasn't been available since then for a new library.

The El Cerrito New Library Campaign Committee , and includes several well-known community figures like Grace MacNeill, president of the Friends of the El Cerrito Library, and former El Cerrito City Manager Gary Pokorny.

The two meetings planned for August follow the committee's efforts  to collect community input at the .

In the last five years, there have been three new libraries built in Contra Costa County.

The Walnut Creek library was the most recently built—having opened in July 2010—and cost $39.5 million, according to .

The Lafayette library was the most expensive of the three, costing $42.5 million reported byThe Contra Costa Times. It opened in November 2009.

The Hercules Library, which opened in 2007, was the least expensive, costing $10.4 million, according to an article on the Architectural Records Web site.

Ryan L. July 30, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I'm quite jealous of residents of neighboring cities that have tool lending libraries. It would be wonderful if the new library facility could support a similar service.
Toni Mayer July 31, 2012 at 05:02 AM
What an interesting idea, Ryan. Are the tool libraries part of the library system or separate? I had thought the one in Berkeley was independent, but may be wrong about that.
Ryan L. August 01, 2012 at 07:39 PM
@Toni: I've never actually been to any of the other tool libraries, but I've heard from friends who have been to them. I believe they are part of the library system whether or not they are located on the same premises as the traditional libraries. When I looked them up online I found out that only residents or property holders within those communities are eligible to check out tools. Oakland: - http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/locations/tool-lending-library - http://www.fotll.org Berkeley: - http://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/about_the_library/neighborhood_branches/tool_lending_library

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