New and renovated library openings around the state

Lewis Library and Technology Center (Fontana Library)

The Lewis Library and Technology Center (the Fontana Library) held its opening event on Saturday, April 18, 2008 much to the delight of the thousands who attended. At the celebration a Fontana kindergartner, caught up in the day’s festive spirit, decided to join the library’s long list of financial benefactors. Moments after the mayor, city, county, and state officials cut a big red ribbon, the 6-year old cornered the Police Chief who is also the president of the Fontana Library Foundation and the two counted out $3.36 in nickels, dimes, quarters and pennies that the youngster had earned doing household chores. The boy exclaimed “I love the library so much!” as he donated his money.

The state-of-the-art library located in Fontana’s Civic Center next to the City Hall is now the governmental, geographic, and historic center of the city. The two-story 93,000 square foot building cost $65 million. The City of Fontana supplied the land and paid for much of the construction costs, while the California State Library provided a Bond Act Grant of $14,900,075. The San Bernardino County Library will operate the library. $15.3 million was raised in private donations including a donation of $5 million from the Lewis Group of Companies.

The library’s special features include a literacy center, a career center, tutoring programs, an auditorium with seating for 330, 10 self check-out machines, over 100,000 items including 7,850 reference, media and periodical items, 200 public use computers, electronic databases, a book mark coffee bar, and a teen area where computer stations resemble race car tires as part of the NASCAR theme. People entering the Children’s Library pass by a projection screen, and it appears that words or letters are falling from the ceiling.

For complete details about the Fontana Library construction project, please visit their page on the California State Library website.

Highland Sam J. Racadio Library and Environmental Learning Center

The Highland Sam J. Racadio Library and Environmental Learning Center, named for Highland’s first city manager (1987-2006), opened Saturday, May 31, 2008 much to the delight of the local community. Funding for the library came from several sources including a California State Library Bond Act grant ($5,165,070), with additional funding from the Highland Redevelopment Agency, San Bernardino County, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The environmental, conservation, and educational details throughout the new 30,000 square foot Highland Sam J. Racadio Library and Environmental Learning Center respond to the community’s need for information and skills on environmental subjects and issues. The new facility includes a rooftop garden, amphitheatre, and flora and fauna exhibits. It has an Environmental Learning Center where, through interactive displays, children can see animals and insects such as chinchillas, iguanas and Madagascar hissing cockroaches. The facility is built with recycled or reused materials, provides extensive use of natural light, and uses a rooftop landscape as natural insulation. The building has been commissioned and certified to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) Standards: they have applied for LEED Silver.

The new library has an expanded collection of 128,000 items, 2 group study rooms, 100 computers, a quiet room, a 100 seat meeting room, conference rooms, a computer lab, 2 individual tutoring study rooms, and much, much more.

For complete details about the Highland Sam J. Racadio Library and Environmental Learning Center construction project, please visit their page on the California State Library website.

North Natomas

The Sacramento Public Library sponsored a ground breaking event for the new North Natomas Library on Thursday, April 3, 2008.  The new library, a recipient of a Bond Act of 2000 grant, will be located near the Inderkum High School and the American River College Natomas Center. It will serve the community’s needs as well as those of the neighboring schools’ faculty, staff and students.  The 23,011 square foot library will open in fall of 2009. 

For complete details about the North Natomas Library construction project, please visit their page on the California State Library website.

Oakland Public Library groundbreaking on 81st Avenue

The Oakland Public Library held a ground breaking ceremony event for the new East Oakland Community Library at 81st Avenue on Friday, May 30. The new library, to be located on the campus of Acorn Woodland School & EnCompass Academy, received a Bond Act of 2000 grant and will be 28,112 square feet.

For complete details about the new library go to the 81st Avenue Branch Library construction project, please visit their page on the California State Library website.

Fresno County Library breaks ground for Orange Cove Library

Fresno County Library held a ground breaking event for the new Orange Cove Library on Saturday, June 7, 2008.  Early arrivals were greeted by mariachi music provided by the City of Orange Cove.  It was a real community event that included the county supervisor, mayor, superintendent of schools, and 3 city council members along with the Orange Cove Blossom Queen and the Orange Cove Cinco De Mayo Queen.  Local youth distributed programs and book marks.  The new library, a recipient of a Bond Act of 2000 grant, will be 9,735 square feet and received a state grant of $2,807,698. 

For complete details about the Orange Cove Library, please visit their page on the California State Library website.

Locally Funded Library Openings

Some California libraries have locally raised all funds for constructing or renovating library facilities in their communities. If you know of a new library construction or renovation project in your area, please email CSL Connection Editor Sarah Dalton and we will include a profile of your library in an upcoming issue of CSL Connection.

Watsonville opens new main library

Watsonville Public Library opened its new main library on April 14, 2008. The library is located on the first two floors of the 42,000 square foot 4 floor Civic Center Plaza building which also houses the Superior Courts of Santa Cruz County, city administrative offices, City Council Chamber, a community meeting room, and available lease space. The $9 million building, which has complex security details necessary for the courts, is located one block from the original Carnegie Library built in 1911 and the replacement library that was built in 1976.

Though most of the library’s funding came from a ¼ cent sales tax originally passed in 1996 to fund all of the libraries in Santa Cruz County, funding also included several grants, including a $214,000 technology enhancement grant under Library Services and Construction Act Title II (LSCA) [the last LSCA Title II grant in California], and some redevelopment monies. On June 3, 2008, county voters passed a new ¼ cent sales tax, so funding will continue for libraries.

The community became involved in the building process over 12 years ago. Over the years, local focus groups have shared their input with the library board, the Friends of the Library, and the staff to create a new library that offers a place for the community to “gather, learn and celebrate.”

The library includes: a computer lab with 28 computers; four study rooms; two conference rooms; large community meeting room; a craft room; a story time amphitheatre; a literacy center; a teen space; 16 online public access computers; early literacy stations in the children’s room; and a book nook where Friends of the Library sell books. In order to work in a space that’s twice the size of the old library with no increase in staff, 5 self-check out machines have been installed. Staff who historically worked behind the scenes in support services, have now been trained as “roamers” to work with the public on the service desks.

A special feature of the Watsonville Public Library is the California Agricultural Workers History Center (CAWHC) which was funded by a 2007 California Cultural and Historic Endowment (CCHE) round one grant for $130, 970 and private donations. With its stories of the workers who came to Watsonville and the surrounding areas in the Pajaro Valley, the CAWHC offers rich source materials for researchers and local historians. With the help of an advisory committee, the library board and other historical and agricultural-based groups, the library will continue to develop this unique and valuable collection.

Library Director Carol Heitzig says,” It is a joy to be able to offer the community of Watsonville a new library. The people of Watsonville deserve this library and what it offers—the chance to gather in a beautiful setting and find the information they need helped by professional staff who are eager to help them.”

For more information about the Watsonville Public Library, please contact Watsonville Public Library Director Carol Heitzig at (831)768-3409 or email at

Beaumont Library District restoration

Over 1000 people attended the recent grand opening of the Beaumont Library District’s Early Learning Family Place. The new 1800 square foot space was created during a full restoration of the 1914 Carnegie Library that was originally founded with a $10,000 grant from philanthropist and steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie. The second fastest growing city in California this year with much of its housing marketed to families, Beaumont received funding for the $650,000 library restoration from a variety of sources including the City of Beaumont’s Redevelopment Agency and the Riverside County Economic Development Agency.

The entire restoration project, of which the Early Learning Family Place is part, involved removing three roofs to get back to the original roofline and contractors used the 1913 plans to restore the original roof with a 21st century energy-efficient roof and drainage system. A skylight that had been covered over in the 1940’s was replaced along with the addition of a new HVAC system, wiring, computer cables, and an elevator. In addition, the Library District took advantage of this capital project to replace flooring, add shelving, and upgrade water lines, electric panels, gas lines, air handlers, water heaters and transformer.

In keeping with the library’s design roots, designers chose the paint colors for the newly developed Early Learning Family Place from the library’s 1936 WPA Commission Henri de Kruif murals. The building exterior was painted the same cream color it had in 1914.

The second floor Early Learning Family Place builds on the knowledge that early learning, parental involvement and supportive communities play a critical role in childhood growth and development. Library Director Clara DiFelice states “The re-designed library environment is appropriate for children beginning at birth. Parenting workshops and non-traditional story time programs are offered four days each week and our goal is to provide families with support to nurture their children’s development during the critical first years of life and ensure that all children enter school ready and able to learn.”

For more information about the Beaumont Library District’s Early Learning Family Place, please contact Library Director Clara DiFelice at (951) 845-1357.



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