The refurbished Claremont Library will reopen to the public on Saturday May 5. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

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.

The front desk at the newly renovated Claremont Branch. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

There are also new men’s and women’s bathrooms, a family bathroom, offices for the staff, a dedicated teen room with closing doors, and another space that can be closed off for small groups. The building has been strengthened against earthquakes, fitted with energy-efficient lighting, and planted with environmentally sensitive plants. There is even more bicycle parking.

Remodeling the building and installing new furnishings, books, and other equipment cost $4.2 million, said Corbeil. The entire $26 million library bond budget, which paid for the remodeling of the Claremont and North branches, as well as the forthcoming construction of new branches at South and West, is within budget, said Corbeil. The Berkeley Public Library Foundation paid for the furnishings and equipment.

The North Branch reopened in April. South is currently being torn down and West is scheduled to close Saturday May 5.

The main reading room at the Claremont Branch. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
A reading nook at the library. The gas fireplace works and will be lit on dreary days. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Donna Corbeil, library director, stands in the new children’s reading nook. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Dawn Swanson, the children’s librarian, arranges books before the May 5 opening. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The Claremont Branch of the Berkeley Public Library is located at 2940 Benvenue Avenue, right off Ashby Avenue. The celebration on Saturday will be from 1 to 5 pm. Patrons will be allowed into the building around 2 pm.

Never let it be said that Berkeley doesn’t love its libraries [04.09.12]
Gleaming new North Branch Library to open Saturday [04.03.12]
Dates set for reopening of North and Claremont branches [02.14.12]
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]

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.

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...