Bookworms in the northwestern area of the city were a lot happier on Saturday. After 11 months of renovations, the Northwest Library reopened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew more than 50 people including City Council members and the public.
In explaining the upgrades, Public Works Assistant Director Ari Omessi said the building, constructed in 1972, underwent structural seismic reinforcing. In addition, ceilings, lighting fixtures and shelving have been engineered and seismically braced or bolted.
There were several upgrades made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, like handicapped access to the restrooms and better layouts of the floor plan and shelving. Some of the safety upgrades are new fire sprinkler and smoke detector systems with monitoring to alert the fire department.
Sustainability upgrades include a new roof that lessens heat absorption and carpet tiles made from recycled materials. The lighting was updated and new air conditioning installed.
“We wanted to make it safe, give it a better work flow and modernize it, and as you can see we’ve accomplished that,” he said.
While it was painful having the library closed for almost a year, Library Services Director Sharon Cohen said the wait was worth it.
“It’s a well used library,” she said “A lot of people in the neighborhood walk to the library, children come to library after school, senior adults use it and people on their way to the airport stop by to get books.”
What Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy liked was how the large windows brought in more sunlight and the view of the park.
“It’s just like being in a garden,” she said. “When you look out of each window you see our park, the children’s play area, the trees and yet is is absolutely quiet so it’s like being in your own garden house, immersed in books of your choice.”
Libraries are the civic foundation of our community, Gabel-Luddy added. They are free, they promote democratic principles of access and they are available to the least fortunate in our community.
“The library now offers adults and children free access to computers, a teens’ corner where they can be quiet and chill out and a kids reading area promoting all that learning necessary for a promising civic future for the city of Burbank,” she said.
Regular library users said they were excited the library will resume hours on Monday and impressed with the upgrades.
Jessica Darwich’s son Mohammad wanted to spend his 10th birthday at Northwest Library where he got his first library card.
The family missed the library during renovation, Darwich said, so they went to the other libraries for the summer reading program and checked out materials for three or four weeks at a time.
“We were sad Northwest Library was closed for so long and when we found out there was a ribbon cutting especially on his birthday we had to come and commemorate that,” she said.
Jaden Stewart, 9, said he saw considerable changes.
He attended the ceremony with his dad John Stewart, who said they stop two or three times a week at either Northwest or Buena Vista Library. The changes they saw were great lighting, modern fixtures and a better flow going to different sections.
“This is beautiful! A good job!” John Stewart said.