South Bay : Library Is Back in Business After $20-Million Renovation

While the county library system has had to slash hours at 46 branches because of budget woes, the affluent Palos Verdes Peninsula Library District is celebrating the reopening of its centerpiece Peninsula Center after a $20-million make-over and expansion.

The 2 1/2-year project more than doubled the size of the 29-year-old facility and infused its new interior with natural light. Before the renovation, funded mostly through a municipal bond measure, rapid growth in the center's collection had forced officials to remove more than 200 reading chairs and tables to make way for shelves. As a result, a citizens committee and private consulting firm recommended expansion in 1990.

"People are very happy to have the space," library spokeswoman Nancy Mahr said.

The center reopened Sunday with a flourish of marching bands, guided tours and a ribbon-cutting. The ceremony kicked off a week of celebratory activities that include teas, author forums and a fund-raising, black-tie dinner and dance.

Besides sprucing up Peninsula Center, library officials also plan to spend about $800,000 on repairs and improved access for the disabled at the system's two branches.

The district receives about $2.6 million a year in property taxes from Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates and from pockets of unincorporated county land on the peninsula.

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