The City Council and Pleasanton Library Commission will hold a joint workshop meeting at 7 p.m. tonight to discuss preliminary plans for expanding or rebuilding the public library.
Although the city has halted capital improvement projects during the current economic downturn, tonight's discussion is expected to lead to outside consulting work to explore expansion and site planning for both a larger library and improvements to the Pleasanton Civic Center as a whole.
One proposal is to authorize City Manager Nelson Fialho to complete the Field Paoli Library Technical Study that would include a conceptual library design and preliminary cost analysis, including the Civic Center improvement project.
In response to a Library Commission presentation about space needs in 2004, the council designated a study of the library as a "highest priority project" that year, authorizing $50,000 for consulting services to assess the library's needs.
Consultants with Kathryn Page Associates, a library planning firm, subsequently met with 10 community focus groups, conducted 11 interviews with Library Commission members as well as city and school representatives and others in the community.
The study found that the 30,178-square-foot library at 400 Old Bernal Ave. that has served the community since 1988 has stayed the same at a time when the city's population has grown from 44,600 when the library was opened to nearly 70,000 today, more than a 50 percent increase.
Originally a branch of the Alameda County Library, the city took over operation of the library in 1999, increased financial support and raised library service levels at a time when Alameda County was cutting back on hours of operation and inventory.
Since it became a city-owned and operated public library, circulation of materials at the library has increase 78 percent with circulation last year topping 1.4 million items.
According to consultants, shelving capacity at the library has now been reached at 2.7 volumes, said Julie Farnsworth, director of library services, in a report that will be considered tonight. A 62 percent net increase in the overall collection size is needed to meet the projected needs for Pleasanton in 2030.
Programming for children, families and adults also is lagging. Since 1999, annual attendance at library programs has grown from 5,393 to more than 30,000 people. The library's reader seat capacity is now 140 whereas a total of 364 are recommended by the consultants.
"Quiet study space is needed and should be provided in a separate, acoustically controlled room, perhaps combined with the local history and genealogy collections," Farnsworth stated in her report.
An architectural feasibility study in February 2006 by Field Paoli Architecture concluded that the current library building could not accommodate additional stories, as had been suggested, but that it could be extended to the north toward, and possibly included a section of Old Bernal Avenue and the San Francisco property. A parking structure between the library and the Civic Center could serve both facilities.
Also under consideration is building a new library on city-owned land on Main Street near the City Hall complex with some city offices possibly moving into the existing library structure.
In March 2007, the Library Commission recommended that option, pointing out that by locating the library at the southern end of Main Street it would provide "an attractive gateway" to the city's downtown.
"The general consensus of the Library Commission to date is that a new library on Main Street and Bernal Avenue would be a significant addition to the community," Farnsworth states in her report to be presented tonight.
Also under consideration will be the financial feasibility of acquiring the vacant 3.3-acre site across Old Bernal Avenue from the library that is owned by San Francisco. That acreage was intended to be acquired in 2000 as part of the 510-acre Bernal property purchase by Greenbriar Homes and its partners, with the city paying $500,000 for the Old Bernal Avenue site.
Although San Francisco's mayor at the time, Willie Brown, agreed to the land deal, it was never written into the Greenbriar purchase agreement. The San Francisco Utility Commission, which owns the acreage, later rejected the sale, offering it to Pleasanton for $3.5 million. The city of Pleasanton later lost its court suit to force San Francisco to honor the Willie Brown commitment.
It is anticipated that during the workshop the City Council and Library Commission will discuss the work completed to date and that the Council may convene to a regular meeting to take action it deems appropriate to continue the civic center site/library expansion conceptual planning process.
Tonight's meeting will be held in the City Council chambers at 200 Old Bernal Ave.