It’s coming…

Whether you like it or not. As San Francisco Mayor Gavin would say.

Yes, there are some people who are not happy, especially now with big concerns about cuts the city is going to have to make to balance its 2010-12 budget.

And then there are others who are getting pumped up for the library’s July 17 opening day and what could be the biggest party this town has seen in a while.

Here are photos of the library, as it nears completion, on April 22. Thanks to the reader who shared these with us.

Above: The south end of the library. The door opens into the Marketplace and coffee bar.

The lights hanging between the young adult on the left and the and reference areas on the right.

Below top: The sculpture, “Journey of a Bottle,” by Marta Thomas and hung above the north lobby.

Bottom: One of six panels created by Amy Blackstone for the fence in the children’s garden.

48 thoughts on “It’s coming…

  1. If the library was built to half of what it is now, the city could have saved $20m. I drive past the library every day. It's so darn big! Seems out of place compared to the park. And it is built write up to the sidewalk… No one believes in setbacks anymore?


  2. The library is not built “write” (actually, right) up the the sidewalk. It is set back and has landscaping all around. The sidewalk is also set back from Broadway – another improvement.

    Most residents think the library is just the right (not write) size.


  3. I'm 7:18,
    Sorry about the typo in the first sentence. I meant to point out that the library is not built right up to the sidewalk.


  4. The library won't be an empty shell. The bookshelves are already there,the furniture is starting to go in, and the computers have been delivered and are ready for installation.


  5. I hope they have a lot of computer terminals.
    I love books and the feel of paper, but most university libraries are actually downsizing their paper collections because current information is now electronic. Scholarly and trade journal are online, academic resources are electronic and online, research writing is online. The library of Congress is scanning all material for access online, they started with old rare fragile books to preserve them first. We can now fit a library worth of books into a computer chip. Books are great but the future generation will see them like cassette tapes.


  6. 7:18- Where do you get your info from? When were the residents asked if the damn library is the right size? It's certainly not the right size in the city budget. With so many deferred/reduced/postponed/cancelled projects (solar power for one) the damn library when it opens, will be just a shell of what it was supposed to be when the city council approved the budget on it without a bond to finance it. It was bad city policy to fund it this way and we will be paying a high price in terms of city revenue and reduced city services to support a structure built to hang brass plaques on.


  7. Well Hello Councilperson Silva, thanks for chiming in since your career hinges on people drinking your kool-aid that this library is “just the right size” (get real) and that we can afford it. You and the Library Foundation people remind me of “Baghdad Bob” getting interviewed by the media during the closing days of the Iraq War. “American troops? There are no American troops here. We are winning the war” ***as US tanks drive through a block away***
    Silva, Regalia and Abrams are the three most responsible for this mess-and it is a mess. “Oh, we didn't see this downturn coming” doesn't cut it. It's your job to plan for the worst case scenario and spend our money responsibily. The Library should remain 100% closed until we pull out of this thing. No lights on, no A/C, no cleaning crews, no more computers-nothing. We'll pick up the peices from the mess you've created in two or three years.


  8. What a waste. Hey Soccer Mom, how about looking into this bogus claim that 40,000 out of the 67,000WC residents use a library card. Do they really think we are that dumb? Maybe they issue library cards at birth and I just didn't hear about it. And thanks for looking at the library issue with an objective eye SM. The Contra Costa Times is a sponsor of the WC Library Foundation so they don't want to be critical. City leaders have to spin things to make it work or they have egg on their face. That leaves few independent voices. A LOT of Walnut Creek residents are really upset about this library and the resulting loss of services like crossing guards, police officers, swim coaches etc. directly related to funding this huge new building.


  9. Hello 9:54/10:03/10:11

    This is 7:18 (not Cindy Silva),

    The following information on the needs assessment is on the City website:

    Needs Assessments and Building Plan

    Comprehensive planning for the new Walnut Creek downtown library began in 1998, guided by the expertise of the Contra Costa County Library, library consultants and architects specializing in library design. Each element of the proposed 42,000-square-foot building – from the children’s area and computer-and-homework center to the collection size, seating, and computers – is based on the specific needs of Walnut Creek.

    This extensive planning process included the input of more than 3,000 people representing individual residents, business owners, educators, parents and community groups. The State Office of Library Construction has approved and rated the proposed needs assessments and building plans as “outstanding.”

    The planning process included a community needs analysis to reflect the current needs and demographics; a plan of service, which identifies the library services and programs proposed to meet the community’s needs, and a building program, or space plan, which accounts for the needed size and functional areas in the new library.


  10. Imagine a world of socialism, where 40,000 people show up to utilize the library – all in one day. Then, what?

    Take a number. Stand in line. Because people cannot even afford public education, let alone a library card.

    You will have to stand in line to get a glimpse of a rare paper book. The world is a depressing place and ostentatious libraries that are unaffordable to the community could be a reality of our double recession.


  11. 12:04 I read your post two times and I do know that this blog is called CRAZY in Suburbia, but your entry makes absolutly no sense.

    What do “socialism” “40,000 showing up at the same time in a library”, “people not affording a public education” and “unfordable libraries” have to do together?


  12. Needs assessment? Or was that a “wants” assessment? Whatever it was, we are stuck with it. We will also be stuck with some new parcel tax or bond measure to support this library. If not the library, the voters will flock like sheep to the voters booth and again vote for Silva and bond measures to pay for WC's policy mistakes.


  13. Assuming that what David 9:36 says is true about books, trade journals, newspapers etc. being available online, why on earth do we need a huge building that encroaches on Civic Park so that people can get on computers?

    Do we really even need 100 computer stations? I seem to remember that a City sponsored survey found that over 85% of homes in Walnut Creek have computers with internet. I know, I know, you will say “what about the other 15% who don't have computers”? Cut that in half at least to count the folks who have no interest nor intention of ever using a computer and then we have less than 8% of our population who are in need of a computer in a library.

    Pretty damned expensive project to serve only 8% of the people.

    Seems to me that a building half the size of the one that has been built would have been more in keeping with the needs and financial means of city.

    As to the “Needs Assessment”…..there are hundreds of consulting companies out there and doing quite well because they can produce the type of report you are looking for. Great business to be in…..satisfying the zealots.


  14. If you build it, they will come… Lafayette Library reported a an 298% increase in patron visits (from Jan 09 – Jan 10) and a 230% increase in items borrowed (from Sept 09 – Feb 10).

    Presumably some of that is excitement of the “new” but it sure shows that Libraries are still relevant today.


  15. Based on data that has only been available for a such a short time does not show enough evidence that libraries are in such demand (Lafayette Library). I'd like to see the stats after one year, two and so on… the upside stats besides the “new” effect could be a cause from there being “no” library in downtown WC, yet.


  16. 12:49 & 1:06:

    First-ever National Study: Millions of People Rely on Library Computers for Employment, Health, and Education
    Posted by Samantha Becker on April 10th, 2010
    PORTLAND, Ore.—Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older – roughly 77 million people – used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released today. In 2009, as the nation struggled through a recession, people relied on library technology to find work, apply for college, secure government benefits, learn about critical medical treatments, and connect with their communities.

    The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    Low-income adults are more likely to rely on the public library as their sole access to computers and the Internet than any other income group. Overall, 44 percent of people living below the federal poverty line used computers and the Internet at their public libraries.

    Americans across all age groups reported they used library computers and Internet access. Teenagers are the most active users. Half of the nation’s 14- to 18-year-olds reported that they used a library computer during the past year, typically to do school homework…

    In the last 12 months:

    ■40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online.
    ■37 percent focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition.
    ■42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.
    ■Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.
    The library’s role as a technology resource has exploded since 1996, when only 28 percent of libraries offered Internet access. Today, almost all public libraries offer visitors free access to computers and the Internet.

    Unfortunately, up to a third of all libraries say they lack even minimally adequate Internet connections to meet demand. More report that they cannot provide the access their patrons truly need.

    “Library technology services have created opportunity for millions of Americans, but public libraries struggle to replace aging computer workstations and increase the speed of their Internet connections,” said Allan Golston, president of the United States Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This study highlights what is at risk, particularly for low-income individuals who heavily rely on the public library for their technology, if future public and private investment in public libraries doesn’t keep pace with demand.”

    The report’s findings are based on nearly 50,000 surveys – including 3,176 from a national telephone survey and 44,881 web survey responses – from patrons of more than 400 public libraries across the country.


  17. Anon 8:57 said “The bookshelves are already there,the furniture is starting to go in, and the computers have been delivered and are ready for installation.”

    That's nice. Are there going to be any actual books?


  18. Why are you all so concerned with money? We need this library. Danville has a nice one. So do Orinda and Lafayette.

    I saw Gwen at the cleaners a couple years back and asked her if she would put lights on other WC tennis courts since they're planning to kill the ones at the library site. She told me I should join a club.

    “Let them eat cake!” The WC brass are truly out of touch.


  19. Andronico's, now the cheesecake factory, space was 42000sf and had a parking garage attached to already and a coffee shop across the street, no need for retail IN the library…but the city study came to the conclusion that to convert that space into a library would cost the same as building the new one, certainly not sure how that is possible, the new cost somewhere around $1100 a square foot, seems sorta high to me. Perhaps parking at the plaza escuela was just not convenient for the council members.

    But what do I know, with “one city one book” its going to be a while before I get a shot at it. Since Cindy is involved in both one city one book, and the library foundation, I am sure the “one book” is probably fiction rather than ethics.


  20. 3:40pm and other “Concerned” folk,

    The Andronico's red herring touted by a few bitter old-timers was a non-starter. The lease costs on the private property would have eaten up the entire library reserve in just a few years.

    The $1,100/square foot nonsense has also been raised before. The library building costs 25,500,000. Divide that by 42,000 square feet and the cost is $607 per square foot. That includes architectural fees, the building, and furniture, fixtures and equipment.

    The parking lot is public parking for the library, Civic Park, the Community Center and downtown. Even when the library is closed, people will be parking there to visit downtown. It is not fair to include that cost in the square-footage cost of the library. AND, spare us the silly statements about City employees parking in that garage and “waddling” over to City Hall to work. City employees park in Broadway or North Locust garages but are not invited to the parking lot under the library. Further, most of the parking lot cost was taken from the fund for downtown parking raised from parking meter and parking lot fees. Imagine using parking fees to create more parking. Isn't that appropriate?

    Finally, a portion of the project was for landscaping that leads people from downtown into Civic Park. It will be a very popular place to visit and relax.


  21. Hmmmpf well spin it any way you want but when the city puts out the sad sack story thet they dont have enough money to to FINISH the inside of the library and that city staff and services will be frozen or cut, the budget shell game makes no difference. See it's that sort of creative accounting that has the city in a bind in the 1st place.

    The fact remains next year's general fund expenditure takes a $5m hit, and the general fund is contributing $2.5m and a magic 3.6m from somewhere else TBD.

    Yes raising parking to $1hr, does help, perhaps at the cost downtown losing business, so the gain is best wishes. The other 5.6 million in parking fees being redirected I am sure was not earmarked to just sit around either.

    $11.7m/121 spaces = 96694 per parking space which of course would not be there if the 42000 foot library was on top of it.

    But, being competent at math you would easily figure out that at full capacity charging $2/hr (twice the street rate) 16 hours a day EVERY DAY, not including staff to handle the fees is going to take 8.3 years to break even…not really a bargin. Sort of like saying you bought something you didnt need on sale and thinking you saved money.

    So I will keep the $1100/sf number because its in the same building and for the same building. 43m bought 4200sf of usable library.

    And we'll see who gets to park there when its done.


  22. 7:09,

    You continue to make errors (e.g., there are 151 parking spaces, not 121).

    The parking meters are run like those on Main Street now, no attendants.

    Sorry you are so mean-spirited about a wonderful public amenity coming soon to our community. Most people in town are looking forward to this enhncement for the next 50 years.

    Most residents will take advantage of the library, including the current >43,000 that have library cards and the others that will get them soon.

    By the way, the budget for the entire project was $41.5M. The WC Library Foundation has raised > $5.5M of that. Thus, the library building at $25.5M came in at $20M City finding and, if we include the entire project, the City spent $35M.

    Would you and other naysayers at least acknowledge the private funding contributions? Some families have contributed a large portion of their life savings to make the library a reality. Mine included.


  23. I am glad that you believe in the library and donated, that's a good thing. I wish more private money went into it because the city is now looking in the proverbial couch for spare change to make ends meet. Sure its hind site now, but there were concerns way back when too.

    As you put it “a wonderful public amenity” perhaps, but now at the expense necessities.

    I think separating the underground parking from the tab is really disingenuous. The reason the parking ran 11.7 million is because of the engineering that had to go into the project to support the building. Besides the parking IS SPECIFICALLY FOR THE LIBRARY.

    As for the errors well sorry I got my numbers from the city's library update page located here:

    “…to build the 42,000-square-foot library and 121-space underground parking garage.”

    Maybe the webmaster had to take one for the team.

    If the meters are in fact the same as the city perfect, so 9hrs of enforcement, we'll use your numbers now 151 spots with a generous $2/hr = 18/day per spot with max occupancy 335 days/yr remember no meter enforcement on Sundays or 10 holidays, ouch now its 12.8 yrs to break even for each spot regardless of the bucket you pulled the expense from.

    Again yes a wonderful amenity, at the expense of some wonderful necessities.


  24. The City has awarded a $200,000 commission to artist Christian Moeller to create a signature public artwork for the new library.

    At least the 200k will be spent locally so we can see some of it back in tax revenue, wait what?

    “Moeller joined the senior faculty at UCLA in the Department of Design and Media Arts and established his art studio in Hollywood.”

    Crossing guards are over rated anyway.


  25. It comes down to this. There are some people out of the loop that are basically against virtually anything. There is no satisfying them and they will continue to complain incessantly.

    We will eventually come out of this deep recession and continue to enjoy the benefits of our new library.

    We will strive to replace our aquatics facilities and repair other critical infrastructure needs. We will also work on many other projects to improve our community.

    However, most Walnut Creek residents will never vote to shut down Walnut Creek because of the short-sighted demands of a < 40% minority of naysayers.


  26. I think you might be confusing restraint with flat out “no”.

    out of the loop, is that like “outside of the inner circle”?

    What “critical infrastructure” are these naysayers against?

    “vote to shut down wc” I don't even know where that came from.

    So the WC is doomed if we cant over do it on a library?


  27. I'm excited about the new library. I love libraries and this one is big enough to have a lot of community events. A building dedicated to knowledge and community that will enhance Walnut Creek for decades to come–I'm going with that concept.


  28. 9:16 now there is a can do attitude if you need 66% for the vote to pass, and you get 62% twice, piss on the 38 and do it anyway. Rules are for other people, you know, the ones that are out of the loop.


  29. 1) Yes Lafayette has a new library. They got a state grant to help cover the construction costs.
    2) City Hall (45 feet from the library) has free internet access. So does La Scala across the street from City Hall. Please never again tout wireless internet access as a reason to have a library.
    3) If your family dumped your life savings into the library you are stupid.
    4) In addition to the two measures voters rejected Walnut Creek also applied for the same state grant Lafayette got. We lost (all three times we applied) and taxpayers will pick up the tab.
    5) No one knows how we will pay to staff and maintain the library after a year or so of savings (from the time the library has been under construction) are spent.


  30. Overdone, overpriced. If Silva and her cronies on the City Council would have listened to CM Mike Parness, and pared down the size, scope and cost of the library, like to a price tag of 10-15 million instead of 40+, many of these posts wouldn't exist. There would still be some who would be pissed about the 10 million one no doubt. Silva, Rainey, Abrams, and Regalia fired Parness and shoved this behemoth through. It is time to make them pay the price. Abrams and Regalia are gone now, thank God.

    Vote the incumbents OUT in November. They deserve nothing less…


  31. 1:39am,

    “3) If your family dumped your life savings into the library you are stupid.”

    I hope have a nice day, too. See you on Opening Day (July 17th).

    Stupid Guy


  32. The point many people are missing is that just because it is built the economic mess is not over. The costs for day to day operations have jumped dramatically since this project started. We are talking lots of money folks. Between the county withdrawing from the library business as much as possible and the city's under-estimation of costs this thing is going to be a drag on the city for years and years.
    And I agree. SM should run for City Council. I'll campign for her. She could beat Cindy Silva with one arm tied behind her back!


  33. Dear Readers,
    This has been a really amazing discussion. People posting here have tons more background than I do, and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. I hope others do to.

    People don't all disagree on this project, but I'm so appreciative and heartened by the tone of the discussion, and the thought that readers–the one, two, 10 or more–are putting into it.

    I'm really glad I'm providing this forum.

    And, 2:18 and 6:19 p.m., thanks for thinking of me, but I REALLY have absolutely NO qualifications or talents to run for political office.

    That would be a true disaster for Walnut Creek.


  34. Soccer Mom,

    I agree you should run. You probably don't have close connections (been given money) to developers, you have critical thinking skills, and you love Walnut Creek.


  35. Soccer mom for City Council! I'll grab the papers this week to get you on the ballot and fax'em over SM. Now, where to put our headquarters?


  36. Lots of empty buildings in Walnut Creek so headquarters space should not be a problem.

    Getting the landlords/developers to donate space to someone who would be opposing the incumbents would likely be a problem however. They need the two women who now hold council seats to remain in place so that they can get all sorts of special variances for future projects.

    That is how it works in Walnut Creek so don't expect to see any new additions to the council anytime soon. Well, unless one of the current members decides no to run, then of course they will hand-pick their replacement from the favored few.

    And once again the Chamber and the developers will select a new council member. Life goes on in our lovely town.


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