The three-phase construction project at Santa Barbara’s Central Library is making steady progress, and the Children’s Library is now open for families to visit during normal business hours. (Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Thursdays.)
In August, library staff announced that the downtown location would be closed — with the exception of a three-hour pickup window each day — during an excavation for the new ADA-compliant elevator. A few weeks later, the library expanded to a “limited browsing” model with a few shelves of books on the main level, though there were still no seating areas or public computers.
Since then, progress on the lower level staff area has advanced enough to allow the library to reopen the downstairs Children’s Library for browsing and reading. Nearly all the children’s materials are available, as are the tables and spaces for reading and activities.
On Friday morning — the first day the children’s area was reopened to the public — families were already eager to return, with parents bringing their children to read, enjoy self-directed learning activities, or check out the educational toys available in the library.
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For many, the library had been a regular daytime spot, and it was the first time they were able to return to the downtown location since it had closed back in August.
Several weekly youth programs will also return to the Central Library after being offered off-site in parks or other library locations for the past few months, including the Wednesday morning literacy classes, which will return to the Faulkner Gallery starting in December.
The “Wiggly Storytime,” “Baby and Me,” and Library Labs will also return to the Faulkner Library after being hosted at the Eastside Library, along with a new weekly “Music and Movement” early literacy class on Thursday mornings.
Work will continue on the Library Plaza with grading and the construction of retaining walls, as well as the lower staff area which will receive new data and phone lines. On the new ADA-compliant elevator, there will be a mural spanning three floors that depicts the ocean, mountains, and landscape of Santa Barbara in a “Modern American Folk Art style,” according to a statement from the library. All three projects are expected to finish in summer or fall of 2023.