Berkeley’s West Branch library to re-open in December

Berkeley's West Branch Library under construction. Photo: Eli Wolfe

Berkeley’s West Branch Library under construction. Photo: Eli Wolfe

Construction continues at a brisk pace at Berkeley’s West Branch Library, which is scheduled to re-open in December, after the holidays.

The completion of the West Branch, which is located at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo), will mark the end of a four-year overhaul of Berkeley’s branch libraries. Voters passed a $26 million bond measure in 2008 to fund the Branch Library Improvement program. The North and Claremont libraries were re-opened in 2012, and the South Branch was re-opened in May.

The West Branch, like the South Branch, had to be completely demolished and rebuilt. The new 9,300-square-foot library has been built to improve seismic safety and make it fully ADA-accessible. The library has been designed as a Net Zero Energy building to meet LEED criteria. Services in the library have been expanded and enhanced.

Sheetrock walls raised in the Adult Literacy Area of the library. Photo: Berkeley Public Library

Sheetrock walls raised in the Adult Literacy Area of the library. Photo: Berkeley Public Library

“One thing I’m really proud of is the adult literacy program, which previously was working out of a back room at the West Branch — pretty much a closet,” said Director of Library Services Donna Corbeil. “Now they’re going to have a really nice space, and space for computer labs and staff. And space for people to come and talk in a confidential manner with a staff member about their needs.”

In addition to more room for READ, the library’s adult literacy program, there will be more space for tutoring and group training as well as a dedicated team area.

Corbeil said construction of the West Branch is running within its budget of $7,504,616.

Several delays pushed back the original target of re-opening in July, including the replacement of a 70-foot-tall redwood tree damaged by a contractor. Corbeil said it also took longer than expected to remove soil from the building site, and that the contractor had the added challenge of working very close to property lines.

Temporary services for nearby residents will continue until the West Branch re-opens. The Berkeley Public Library BranchVan will continue to service West Berkeley Monday through Saturday near Rosa Parks School at 920 Allston Way, and the Adult Literacy program will continue operating from the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge St.

Follow the construction progress.

Berkeley Public Library South Branch: The Opening (5.13.2013)
Renovated Claremont library branch opens Saturday (05.03.12)
Never let it be said that Berkeley doesn’t love its libraries (04.09.12)
A peek at the renovations at Berkeley’s branch libraries (08.16.11)
Berkeleyans rally to move forward on library renovations (04.27.11)

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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  • Woolsey

    Isn’t this like building horse stables and parking for buggies?

  • David D.

    Thanks for the update. Glad to see it coming along. Hopefully it has been updated for the 21st century–libraries of my childhood (i.e., full of books) are obsolete (and I’m not very old).

    P.S. How can something be retrofitted if it’s new?

  • emraguso

    Thanks for catching that — it was a slip-up and has been corrected.

  • Charles_Siegel

    When television first became popular, people predicted that it would make radio disappear – just as cars made the horse and buggy disappear.

    The horse-and-buggy model doesn’t always apply. There are many cases where older technologies still fill a niche.

    I don’t think books and libraries will disappear – at least, I hope not.

    Books demand a level of attention that you don’t get with the internet, which is filled with constant distractions. There would be a huge decline in intelligence, if people no longer had the attention span needed to read 200 pages of prose with a coherent plot or a coherent argument.

    When is the last time you read such a large chunk of consecutive prose on the internet?

  • EBGuy

    I’m curious, has anyone out there successfully borrowed a library ebook using an Android based tablet?
    PS – David D. I don’t suppose you have kids?

  • TN

    Yes I’ve just finished the very first library volume I checked out electronically. I use a Kindle Fire HD 8.9 based on Android. I found the Overdrive software difficult to navigate. For some unknown reason, the site doesn’t always respond.

    But once I got the download, it was easy to read. And returning the book will be a lot easier. The problem is that the number of titles available is very small.

  • TN

    I think that books and the net go together nicely. I know that we now buy more books than ever since the advent of internet book sales. When I’m interested in a specific topic, I can find the book that best fits my needs and get it. I’m not limited by the selection at a bookstore. And since we’re willing to buy used books, the prices are better. And when we feel like it for special books, we have sold books on the net.

    Amazon became a force on the internet based on the sales of books. I don’t think that paper books are going away either.

  • guest

    Library usage in Berkeley grows every year. The way libraries are used is changing too. You seem to not realize that you can get free tax advice, free legal advice, literacy classes for those who can’t read and write, computers for those who can’t afford them, infant, toddler, child and teen classes and events. The library is now a community center, offering
    services being cut elsewhere.

  • Biker 94703

    Yeah I do it both on an android based phone. It’d be the same on a tablet.

    Go to:

    After you sign in and select your books, you can either Download (e-pub book) or Read (in your browser). Select “Read (in your browser)”.

    If you want to use Overdrive on android, you have to use the App. Menu => Get Books. Don’t use the browser to do it. You also have to set up an adobe id, yadda yadda more data for the NSA.

  • joshua a

    Adding internet to libraries actually increases the use. And the cool thing is that while people may come for the computers and internet, they check out more books and use other services too. The internet has been a great thing for libraries.

  • guest

    Tip – As a California resident, you can usually get a library card in other systems. I also have a Contra Costa County Public Library card and frequently find the waiting list for some ebooks much shorter in their system. I plan to get cards from Alameda County, San Francisco and Oakland libraries too. The number of e-books and audio books at most libraries is small, but growing each year.

    The Overdrive software isn’t the most user friendly but I think you can ask to sign up for e-book training at the reference desk at Central.

  • guest

    I love my library, and it appears that thousands of other folks do, too. Every time you want to get a book on amazon, or a movie on netflix, ask yourself “is it in my library?” You may be able to get it faster by biking down to the library than you can by ups’ing from Amazon. Once you are done reading it, return it to the library and avoid household clutter. In Berkeley, we can also use the Alameda County Libraries. Lots of wonderful choices. Need the internet, and your home dsl is dead : “head to the library.”. Just moved, and haven’t got the computer hooked up yet – “head to the library”. Plus, the library hosts awesome readings, and other community events.

  • EBGuy

    Gahhh!!! My eyes started to glaze over at adobe id…. apps are evil! Seriously, though, thanks for the tips. I’ll give it a shot some time.

  • guest

    If you want to build a stable in Berkeley, I recommend getting the building tools from Berkeley Tool Lending Library. It will save you time and money, and you can return the tools to the library when you are done, saving room in your house. I do not believe they have farriers tools, but you could ask. They do have some tools that would help in cleaning your stable, and maintaining your buggy.

  • rule of law

    Before deciding that this is a do it yourself project, learn some key points for any new stable construction:

    “The drainage from all single and box stalls where a horse, mule or cow
    is kept or housed, must in all cases be connected to the street sewer.
    The floor of all said stalls must be made impervious to water, and the
    drainage from said stalls must be conducted to the sewer either in tile
    or cement gutters of a radius of not less than two inches. The said
    gutters shall discharge into a three-inch or four-inch trap before
    entering the main sewer. The trap must be protected in all cases by a
    strainer and be easy of access for cleaning purposes. (Ord. 557-NS § 18,

    “The drain from the carriage wash must be connected with a sand trap
    before connecting with the main sewer. The sand trap must be constructed
    so that the sand and dirt will stay on one side and be prevented from
    going into the sewer; the sand trap must be placed so that it will be
    easy of access for cleaning purposes. (Ord. 557-NS § 19, 1918)”

    And though it isn’t strictly a construction requirement, by no means may you keep your stallion and mare in the same enclosure if other people can see what then transpires. (“Ord. 557-NS § 10, 1918”)

    If you aren’t able to satisfy these requirements yourself you really best leave such projects to the experts. If you’re willing to give it a try but need a little help, the folks at the tool lending library may be able to set you in the right direction.

  • AIA East Bay

    And the architects are Harley Ellis Devereaux Architects of Oakland, Ca.