Tag Archives: Berkeley Public Library Branch Improvement Program

Berkeley Library Director Donna Corbeil to retire

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Donna Corbeil, who oversaw the renovation and reconstruction of Berkeley’s four branch libraries, will be stepping down from her post as executive director of the library system in September.

Corbeil has headed the Berkeley Public Library for seven years. In that time, she oversaw the completion of a master plan for the branch libraries, which led to the placement of Measure FF, a $28 million bond,  on the November 2008 ballot. Corbeil then managed the renovation of the North and Claremont branches and construction of two new buildings for the West and South branches, giving Berkeley one of the most modern, energy-efficient, handicapped-accessible and light-filled branch systems in the state. The project was brought in on budget. … Continue reading »

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Free events celebrate Berkeley’s revamped libraries

Kids browse the bookshelves at the December 2014 opening of the South Branch. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Call it a “library warming.”

As a way to celebrate the completion of its branch renovation campaign – and highlight the dozens of community programs it presents each month – the Berkeley Public Library is hosting a month-long party.

The Branch Out! celebration will bring concerts, art exhibits, pop-up libraries at food truck gatherings, a sleepover party for stuffed animals, mindfulness meditation, and that beloved event – author readings – and much more to a branch near you in April. … Continue reading »

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Photo gallery: Berkeley’s brand new West Branch library

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On Saturday, Berkeley welcomed a new West Branch library at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo). Read all about it in our story published last week. And enjoy these superlative photographs by Richard Friedman, taken on opening day.

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New $7.5M Berkeley West Branch library to open Saturday

The adult seating area has comfortable furniture and tables made by Berkeley-based Swerve. There is an abundance of natural light, too. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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When the new West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opens on Saturday Dec. 14, officials hope that it not only becomes a place for people to take out books, but a community center that allows people to collaborate and build their businesses.

The new 9,300 square foot, $7.5 million structure at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo) — first net-zero library in California — will have the largest community meeting room in the branch system. It can hold up to 100 people and it can be configured for video conferences and computer coding, as well as for meetings. There are numerous electrical outlets near the tables to accommodate laptops (which are also available for use) and a long counter that faces out onto the small garden holding a newly planted cork oak tree.

“It’s really not a traditional community reading room but an extension of the library,” said Library Director Donna Corbeil as she pointed to the glass wall that separates the meeting room from the rest of the building. … Continue reading »

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Local stars come out for the Berkeley Public Library

BPLF Authors Dinner 2013 - Berkeley CA.
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By Mal Warwick

Who knew? Former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart isn’t just a musician. It turns out he’s also a musicologist of considerable note, and he’s collaborating with neurologists to conduct research on the potential use of rhythm to reawaken brain function in people with dementia. Hart’s brief conversation in the spotlight with Event Chair Linda Schacht Gage at Saturday’s 11th Annual Berkeley Public Library Foundation Authors Dinner was the hit of the evening. Yes, Hart writes books on his research, too, and he was one of thirty recently published authors honored at the dinner.

Running a close second as a crowd-pleaser was Sam Barry, a San Francisco humorist, the brother of Pulitzer-Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry, whom he closely resembles and whose greetings he passed along. Sam Barry was recently a candidate for Mayor of San Francisco, running under the slogan, “How bad could he be?” But there’s more. Barry is also a virtuoso on the harmonica, and one short command performance led to an electrifying encore that left smiles stretching all across the room. … Continue reading »

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Demolition and building at Berkeley branch libraries

A truck pumping concrete to form a concrete slab for the South Branch. Photo: Berkeley Public Library
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Demolition began Wednesday on the West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library on University Avenue and, within a few hours, the bulldozers had knocked down much of the building.

The West Branch, which was constructed in 1923, is being torn down to make way for a larger and more modern building. When completed in 2013, it will be 9,400 square feet, almost a third larger than the old structure. It will also be zero net energy, which means it will produce more energy than it consumes through the solar panels on the roof.

Work is also progressing on the South Branch of the library on Russell Street. Last week construction crews pumped in concrete to form the new foundation. … Continue reading »

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Renovated Claremont library branch opens Saturday

The exterior of the refurbished Claremont Library. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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After a year of construction, the refurbished Claremont Branch of the Berkeley Public Library will reopen Saturday May 5 at 1 pm with music, food, and greetings by a host of dignitaries.

“We’re so proud of it,” said Donna Corbeil, director of the library. “We are so excited.”

The renovation of the branch paid attention to historical details while installing state-of-the-art equipment that brings the building into the 21st century. The original 1924 entrance has been turned into a huge glass reading nook and the wooden furnishings have been redone, giving the main reading room a classic feel.

There are new computers in the reading room (eight for adults and three for children), an automated book-sorting system, a new heating and cooling system that should better control the library’s temperature and ventilation, and flat screens to see movies, get database training, or develop computer apps. … Continue reading »

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Critic of Berkeley library bond issue files more lawsuits

The North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library recently reopened after a $5.9 million remodel. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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The woman who was the only named member of the group in a citizen’s lawsuit against Berkeley’s use of library bond funds has filed a number of lawsuits against her critics.

Judith Epstein, who is part of Concerned Library Users, has filed suits in the Alameda County small claims court against Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore, Pacific Union International, and Julie Nachtwey, a realtor for Pacific Union, according to court documents. The suits all claim that Epstein’s reputation was sullied because of comments the defendants made. Epstein asked for as much as $10,000 in damages, according to court documents.

“Moore made the following false and defamatory statement to the Berkeley Times about those of us who were suing the city of Berkeley over the illegal use of library funds,” Epstein wrote in a declaration to the court. “This placed me in a false light before the public. It was part of a campaign of harassment, bullying, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress with the purpose of trying to get us to drop the lawsuit.” … Continue reading »

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Gleaming new North Branch Library to open Saturday

The exterior of the renovated North Branch Library has new signs and seating. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Workers were busy putting the finishing touches on the renovated North Branch Library last week in anticipation of its grand reopening on Saturday, April 7 at 1:00 pm.

The library has been closed for nearly a year and, when it reopens, patrons will see many recognizable features, but some new ones too.

“We’re really excited,” said Donna Corbeil, the library’s director.

The main circulation desk has been repositioned. New leather chairs form inviting spaces to read. There is an expanded computer room, and the library also has seven laptop computers for people to use. … Continue reading »

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Dates set for reopening of North and Claremont branches

Claremont Library Ashby side
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The renovated North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library will reopen on April 7, and the remodeled Claremont Branch will open shortly thereafter, on May 5, library officials announced Saturday night.

The re-opening of the two branches comes less than a year after they were shut for remodeling. It means that construction on Berkeley’s other two branches can start soon.

As a first step towards tearing down and rebuilding the South Branch, the Tool Lending Library at 1901 Russell Street will relocate. The Tool Lending Library will close Friday, February 17 and reopen March 20 in the Sawtooth Building at 2547 8th Street. Patrons are asked to return all tools by Friday this week.  The South Branch will close on March 17 and the West Branch is scheduled to close at the end of April, according to Donna Corbeil, the library’s executive director. … Continue reading »

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Claremont branch library reopening delayed two months

Claremont library construction
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The reopening of the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library has been pushed back two months because of construction delays.

The Claremont branch will now reopen in late March or April next year, rather than late January or early February, according to Donna Corbeil, the library director.

“It looks like it is four to eight weeks behind our originally anticipated schedule,” said Corbeil.

The delay is a result of some vendors not delivering items on time, Corbeil said. For example, the new windows are taking longer to arrive than expected.

So far, there are no cost overruns for either the Claremont or North branch projects. The North branch remodel is expected to be completed in March or April 2012 as well. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley settles contentious library lawsuit

The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library
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The city of Berkeley has reached an agreement with Concerned Library Users over a lawsuit the group filed to stop the demolition and rebuilding of the South and West branches of the Berkeley Public Library.

In a closed session on Tuesday evening, the city council voted to settle the lawsuit by creating a $100,000 fund to provide grants to preserve historic buildings in the city’s south and west neighborhoods, according to Zach Cowan, the City attorney. The city also agreed … Continue reading »

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A peek at the renovations at Berkeley’s branch libraries

Back side of North Branch. There used to be a tiny staff room and steps from the Children's room here.
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The Berkeley Public Library has been writing a blog to keep patrons updated on the renovations to the North and Claremont branches of the library. These are photos from that site. The two branches were closed in April 2011. Claremont branch renovations should be done by end of year, according to library director Donna Corbeil, and the North branch will be completed by spring 2012.  The library is also posting weekly updates on the construction on its website.

Claremont … Continue reading »

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