By Matt Larson
Citizens of San Pablo! The time has come. Official plans have been set to relocate the current 8,900 sq. ft. San Pablo Public Library to a new 22,000 sq. ft. location at 13751 San Pablo Ave. as part of the greater up-and-coming Plaza San Pablo. The new library space will include such amenities as a dedicated children’s space, meeting rooms, study rooms, a coffee shop and, perhaps most importantly—windows!
“We want to make sure it’s a trophy project for the city,” said Charles Ching, Assistant to the City Manager, Economic Development. The new library locale is currently occupied by a Walgreens which, by around June, will be relocating down the street allowing the library to come and begin renovation. “We’re doing a new facade on the outside, gutting the whole interior of the building, redoing the landscape and parking—it’s a beautiful project.”
Currently the San Pablo Public Library is being heavily used, complete with weekend and evening hours—and the only library branch in West County open on Sundays—so this major update will add a lot to the local community, especially as part of the new Plaza San Pablo development which will be three blocks long and two blocks deep, eventually full of exciting vendors: “It’s going to be our flagship development for the City of San Pablo,” said Ching. “We’re really putting our money where our mouth is in terms of economic development. We know the importance of it and we’re really investing in it—the library is a perfect example.”
This project has been years in the making as this has been a longtime improvement needed for the residents of San Pablo. Even getting the library in the first place was no easy task: The City of San Pablo partnered with the County of Contra Costa to provide the community with this local branch of the county library system. The County provides the library services and the City pays the rent, maintenance and operational costs.
“The new location will have many features that everyone can get excited about,” said Gia Paolini, Community Library Manager. Size, in general, will probably be the greatest upgrade. “At our current location we are cramped for space and run into noise issues which can limit our options—in the new library we’ll have space to spread out and let the kids and teens be themselves without infringing on our visitors who want a more quiet space.”
Plenty of programs are already in place at the library, and they plan to continue and expand on them at the new location. Some popular programs to date include their traditional book club, an ESL conversation group, children’s craft and building time, a writer’s club and more. “The staff are already thinking ahead about their programming plans,” said Paolini. One of their newer programs is called “Paws to Read” where children who need to practice reading can come in and read to a trained therapy dog. The library also offers services like downloadable ebooks, Discover & Go museum passes and Link+ which allows the borrowing of books and materials from other libraries in California and Nevada.
Looking ahead, “My hope is to grow our Friends of the Library group, offer more programs for all ages and bring more technology and STEAM programs to our visitors,” said Paolini. “It’s also our hope that the new location will allow us to increase our engagement with the San Pablo Senior Center members.” With the new space the sky is the limit! But Paolini and her team may also need some help to reach their full potential…
“The library staff is amazing, but we can’t do this alone,” she says. If you’re interested in volunteering to help the library out on this milestone move, Gia Paolini invites you to call the library at (510) 374-3998 to inquire about how to get involved, or pay them a visit at their soon-to-be-former location: 2300 El Portal Drive, Ste. C. Also, if you have any thoughts or ideas to share in regards to this new development, Charles Ching invites you to send him an email at CharlesC@sanpabloca.gov. So get involved! If you can, or just support the library’s services to help make San Pablo and even greater place to live.