The remodeled Woodside Library, which reopened April 16 after a nine-month renovation, includes mobile book shelves capable of being rolled away, creating a new capacity for large indoor community events such as performances and talks.
The open plan for the library's central area "was very much part" of goals to create spaces for community activities, Town Manager Kevin Bryant told the Almanac. "The library, right now, is kind of the best area (for these activities) that we've got."
Under the same roof is a new glassed-in learning center for smaller-scale events such as author lectures and classes.
The library, located at 3140 Woodside Road in Woodside, reopened after a nine-month, $2.8 million redesign of the interior and upgrade of the 48-year-old building's structural integrity.
The April 16 open house event included a block party, 3D printing, commemorative-button making, live music, crafts, stories, a magician and a cookbook author.
The library now has a partially glassed-in area for teens and a large children's corner set with height-appropriate shelves and walls holding books with covers on display, like artwork.
The old layout had a children's area, but it was cramped and in the middle of the library, where the noise "kind of spread over everything," said Garrett Kuramoto, manager of the Woodside and Portola Valley libraries.
The stacks in the central area are now on wheels and can be moved for major events. "We could bring in someone who we know is going to be a big draw," Mr. Kuramoto said. "We could easily accommodate a large event because we've designed it with that flexibility in mind."
The library's previous layout had nothing comparable in terms of a community gathering place or areas set aside for teens or groups. "Decades from now, that flexibility will help us be prepared for whatever changes come," Mr. Kuramoto said.
Funding came from a percentage of resident property tax revenues set aside annually, by law, for upkeep of the library.
The new layout includes a lot of "nice comfortable furniture," Mr. Kuramoto said. "It's still going to be a place (where you can) pull down a newspaper or a book off the shelf and sit down and read."
Some of that seating will face the garden in the back.
Old and new
Old interior or new, librarians see themselves as information navigators, ready to help patrons find what they're looking for, said Tom Fortin, deputy director of the San Mateo County Libraries.
The Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton public libraries are members of the county system as well as the Peninsula Library System, which includes the Menlo Park public library.
As for Woodside's library building, it is still somewhat the old building. From the outside, aside from new front doors and roof and an access ramp for the disabled, not much has changed.
"The library we had was essentially the library we would have," Mr. Bryant said, recalling a moment of foresight. "We weren't really looking at making changes to the exterior of the building."
The old library had a 3D printer and portable Wi-Fi hotspots for checkout, and both are again available. The book and DVD collections are coming back, but with some new titles, Mr. Fortin said.
Among the hidden changes are new sewer connections and structural additions to make the building safer against earthquakes, additions that go beyond requirements in the state building code, Mr. Bryant said.
"Some of the cost is definitely in stuff you don't necessarily see," he said. "Those kinds of things are all behind walls and underground, and those kinds of things add substantially to the life of the building."
"We'll finally be in an up-to-date building," Mr. Fortin said.
The bathrooms now meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, changes also reflected in the access ramp and mechanisms to open the front doors by pushing a button.
The cabinet containing a seed library, formerly located near the rear exit to the native plant garden, is at the Portola Valley Library until officials from the Woodside Library and the Woodside-Atherton Garden Club agree on a new cabinet for the seeds, Mr. Kuramoto said. The old cabinet no longer fits the space, Mr. Fortin said.