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Reading up on the library’s future

Ben Godar

Central Library will close later this month for renovations, but

officials have scaled down the project in hopes that a new facility

may soon be on the way.

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In March, library officials applied for a $20-million piece of the

$110 million in funding being doled out to cities throughout the

state for library construction. Library Services Director Sharon

Cohen said she expects to hear sometime in October if Burbank will

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receive the funding, for which 65 other cities also applied.

Given the possibility that a new library could be built, city

officials acknowledged that only about $65,000 in repairs will be

made on what was originally expected to be about a $350,000 project.

“We were going to do a major remodeling, but now we’re doing a

greatly scaled down version just to keep the library going,” Cohen

said.

Several light fixtures with substandard wiring will be replaced,

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as will carpet that has worn thin, project manager Bruce Berichon

said. In addition to the repairs, Berichon said a $180,000 project

aimed at improving workstations around the library is expected to

begin sometime after Jan. 1.

“The building is in excellent condition, it’s just gotten too

small for the services it offers,” he said.

The Central Library will be closed from Aug. 23 through Sept. 1.

No items stored at the branch will be available for checkout during

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that time, however Cohen said items on hold will be available to be

picked up at the Buena Vista and Northwest library branches. The

Central Library, she added, houses about 60% of the city’s total

collection.

Passage of Measure L earlier this year means that if the city

receives funding from the state, local property owners would pay the

additional $18 million needed for the proposed project, which would

pay for building a new Central Library as well as a new Northwest

Library. The fee is expected to be about $3 for the average

homeowner.

Design work on the new facilities has already been completed, and

Cohen said if the proposal were approved, officials would be ready to

move ahead immediately. Even so, she said it would be some time

before the new libraries would open.

“Even if we get approved, we’ll still be here for another four

years,” she said.

If the city’s proposal is not approved, they can apply again in

January for a final round of state funding. If the project is still

not approved, Cohen said city officials would have to decide whether

to seek an alternate source of funding for new facilities or just try

to renovate the existing buildings.

“By getting a majority vote on Measure L, it indicates the

community wants a new Central Library and a new Northwest Library,”

she said.


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