Berkeley’s West Branch Library under construction. Photo: Eli Wolfe
Berkeley’s West Branch Library under construction. Photo: Eli Wolfe

By Eli Wolfe

Construction continues at a brisk pace at Berkeley’s West Branch Library, which is scheduled to re-open in December, after the holidays.

The completion of the West Branch, which is located at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo), will mark the end of a four-year overhaul of Berkeley’s branch libraries. Voters passed a $26 million bond measure in 2008 to fund the Branch Library Improvement program. The North and Claremont libraries were re-opened in 2012, and the South Branch was re-opened in May.

The West Branch, like the South Branch, had to be completely demolished and rebuilt. The new 9,300-square-foot library has been built to improve seismic safety and make it fully ADA-accessible. The library has been designed as a Net Zero Energy building to meet LEED criteria. Services in the library have been expanded and enhanced.

Sheetrock walls raised in the Adult Literacy Area of the library. Photo: Berkeley Public Library

“One thing I’m really proud of is the adult literacy program, which previously was working out of a back room at the West Branch — pretty much a closet,” said Director of Library Services Donna Corbeil. “Now they’re going to have a really nice space, and space for computer labs and staff. And space for people to come and talk in a confidential manner with a staff member about their needs.”

In addition to more room for READ, the library’s adult literacy program, there will be more space for tutoring and group training as well as a dedicated team area.

Corbeil said construction of the West Branch is running within its budget of $7,504,616.

Several delays pushed back the original target of re-opening in July, including the replacement of a 70-foot-tall redwood tree damaged by a contractor. Corbeil said it also took longer than expected to remove soil from the building site, and that the contractor had the added challenge of working very close to property lines.

Temporary services for nearby residents will continue until the West Branch re-opens. The Berkeley Public Library BranchVan will continue to service West Berkeley Monday through Saturday near Rosa Parks School at 920 Allston Way, and the Adult Literacy program will continue operating from the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge St.

Follow the construction progress.

Berkeley Public Library South Branch: The Opening (5.13.2013)
Renovated Claremont library branch opens Saturday (05.03.12)
Never let it be said that Berkeley doesn’t love its libraries (04.09.12)
A peek at the renovations at Berkeley’s branch libraries (08.16.11)
Berkeleyans rally to move forward on library renovations (04.27.11)

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