Claremont Branch Library from the Ashby side: renovations are nearing completion. Photo: Tracey Taylor

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.

A new addition to the Claremont Branch Library on the Benvenue side. Photo: Tracey Taylor

All this positive news, and the recent dropping of a lawsuit by Concerned Library Users, helped create a festive mood at the Berkeley Public Library Foundation’s annual Author’s Dinner, held Saturday night.

“It was definitely the most successful ever,” said Kirsten Cowan, interim executive director of the foundation. “We raised $100,000, probably more.”

Veteran television host and author Belva Davis was the honorary chair. Thirty authors were also honored.

The foundation has also raised close to $2 million of its $3.5 million goal to provide furnishings, fixtures, and equipment for the renovated and new branches, said Cowan. Measure FF, which authorized the sale of bonds to pay for the renovations, did not include money for furniture.

Table decorations at 2012 Authors’ Dinner. Photo: Richard Friedman
Table decorations at 2012 Authors’ Dinner. Photo: Richard Friedman
Decorations at Authors’ Dinner. Photo: Richard Friedman
Decorations at Authors’ Dinner. Photo: Richard Friedman
Hosts at the dinner: Bill Schechner and Linda Schact Gage. Photo: Richard Friedman
Berkeley Reads! was honored with the Fred and Pat Cody award. Photo: Richard Friedman

New addition to North Branch Library almost complete [02.02.12]
Berkeley’s Claremont Library reopening delayed two months [12.07.11]
Berkeley settles contentious library lawsuit [09.06.11]
A peek at the renovations at Berkeley’s branch libraries [08.16.11]
Berkeleyans rally to move forward on library renovations [04.27.11]

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...