Council plans to tour neighboring libraries

City officials think it’s high time to examine their neighbors’ state-of-the-art new libraries before moving forward with replacing San Bruno’s own aging facility.

The City Council is holding a special meeting today to tour the San Mateo Main Library, which opened in August, and the nearly year-old Belmont branch of the San Mateo County Public Library.

After the council solidifies a preliminary wish list after the tours, public hearings on design and budget can start in 2007.

A 40,000-square-foot, two-story library would be ideal, library services director Terry Jackson said. The facility located at 701 Angus Ave., built in 1956, has cracking walls, does not meet current ADA standards and only has roughly a dozen computers.

The main challenge for San Bruno is the limited available space for a facility built to last more than 20 years from now, Jackson said. There is community interest in keeping the library in the existing civic center plaza on Angus Avenue, which means the city has roughly the same footprint to work with for a new building that officials hope will include 10 times more parking spaces, computers and meeting and study spaces.

Both Mayor Larry Franzella and Councilman Rico Medina said they have not spent much time in either the San Mateo or Belmont library. But Medina said he particularly wants to know what the most popular features of these brand-new libraries are.

“What is today’s view of a library?” Medina asked. “I’ll definitely want to know what people are asking for in these facilities, since it’s so hard for us to judge from our perspective.”

In San Bruno, there have been talks for years of including council chambers in the new library — something that has been dubbed a very high priority for council members who meet in the city’s Senior Center for lack of a better space. More computers are also a priority, Jackson said, as are more parking spaces.

Roughly $10.3 million is allocated to capital improvements this fiscal year, $401,128 of which is dedicated to planning the library, according to the capital plan. The library is expected to cost anywhere between $34 million and $51 million, with hopes that it will be completed in 2011.

tramroop@examiner.com

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