By Julie Horner
Construction at the Boulder Creek Branch Library is nearly complete. The library has been closed since March 2020 but because of the pandemic, and then the fire, the upgrade project was stalled for months. Crews have been busy this summer, and a sneak peek reveals a refreshingly open circulation area, reading rooms bathed in natural light, and facilities that meet 21st Century standards. “It’s been a lot of hard work,” said Damon Adlao, Project Manager at the County of Santa Cruz Department of Public Works. The design, he says, is “simple, clean, and really nice.”
Upgrades include ADA compliant restroom facilities and barrier free access throughout the building, and the staff and patron entry areas are improved. In the great room, an expansive steel beam replaces the original support posts, and the circulation desk has been pushed back, which, Adlao said, “allows the room to be open and light and frees up space.” Areas of wooden slatwall panels act as a baffle to reduce echo and other noises and make the rooms look sleek and modern. Lighting and electrical systems have been upgraded throughout. The children’s room boasts whimsical fixtures that remind one of fluffy white clouds, and there will be a colorful mural-like image applied to the walls when the room is complete. And a portion of the original art that was part of the design of the building 40 years ago and recently removed to the Boulder Creek Recreation and Parks District Bear Creek Facility is being returned. Whimsical masks created by ceramic artist Julie Mackie will be framed and installed in the adult reading room.
Adlao indicated that the remodeled Boulder Creek Library includes elements that are consistent with new designs throughout the Santa Cruz Public Libraries system. “We’re trying to update all libraries to this 21st Century model, which involves upgraded technology and creating spaces where students can break out into small learning groups.” Funding for this project is through Measure S and a grant from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation administered through the Boulder Creek Library Friends Chapter and the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.
Abe Jayson of Jayson Architecture said, “It has been a wonderful process working with the Library, the County, and the community of Boulder Creek to create a vision for how the library can serve the public for future generations.” He is proud of a design vision that takes cues from the natural and historical context of Boulder Creek, “with inspiration from the surrounding mountains and redwoods reflected in the use of warm wood finishes and a serene palette of greens.” He describes the children’s area as a “treehouse room wrapped in wood with glowing pendants of light hanging from the ceiling and a mural featuring luminous forest sprites sprinkled among the redwoods.” He also notes how the great room has been expanded by removing an awkward and inefficient entry hallway. The area, he said, will be accented with comfortable seating that can be used for study, reading, and conversation in front of the fireplace. And the history of Boulder Creek will be reflected in wall murals depicting early black and white photographs of the area. “The renovation has given this wonderful library momentum to serve the public for the decades to come.”
Santa Cruz Public Libraries Regional Manager, Laura Whaley said, “It looks like staff will be able to get back into the building in late October. It will take 6-8 weeks to get the building ready for public use so we are hoping for a mid-December opening.” And the Boulder Creek Friends of the Library are starting back up. Contact the Friends of the Santa Cruz Libraries at (831) 427-7716 or email email@example.com for more information. A reopening event is in the works.
Featured photo of the Boulder Creek Library contributed by Damon Adlao