Community Room In New Library Will Expand Opportunities


Last updated 3/27/2018 at 9:29am

When the new library is completed the end of this year, the most significant draw--aside from books and computers--may very well be the Community Room, which at 2,200 square feet will be larger than many Borregans’ homes and have the capacity to seat 200 people.

The Community Room in the current library is already a popular draw with locals. Activities taking place there include art exhibits, craft programs, English as a second language classes, yoga, Zumba, a writers group, poetry club, a non-fiction book group and a monthly potluck.

But because the space is small, those activities are small—by necessity. For example, only about eight people can comfortably take part in the yoga classes. And the room is too small for some to even consider using it.That will change with the bigger and better Community Room, which will be outfitted with a large podium and microphone, user-friendly audio-visual equipment, video-conferencing capabilities, screens on both sides of the room, and technology for the hearing-impaired. The room can be split into two spaces if need be, and the kitchen will be located in a separate, adjacent room.

“Some people don’t come to programs right now because we’re limited in what we can offer,” says Borrego branch manager Tonya Gadbois. “Having new technology, more staff and a larger space will increase public interest. This will bring us up to par with what other branches have.”

New space means new possibilities, such as musical programs similar to those offered at the Julian library. The larger space also means the library will be able to accommodate requests from outside business groups who in the past have expressed an interest in holding meetings at the library, but turned to larger venues when informed of the present library’s limitations. Now, not only will groups have access to the Community Room and the adjacent, outdoor patio (spacious in and of itself, at 1,730 square feet), but also a conference room inside the library that seats 22.

Like the current Community Room, which can be locked from the main library and accessed through its own door, events could theoretically take place 24/7 in the new Community Room, as there will be a security gate that will lock it from the main library. Use of the space is free for nonprofits; the fee for others will remain what it is now, $50 per two hours. Library staff can provide details about policies to adhere to when using the Community Room.

The staff is small now, with just one full-time and one half-time employee. But that too, will change with the new larger library, says Gadbois. At present the Community Room doubles as a break room for staff, which can pose a conflict when events are taking place. The new library will include a staff break room with its own kitchen and restroom.

Charles Jarman, principal librarian of capital projects and facilities for San Diego County, oversees all new building and remodeling. The Borrego library is the biggest and most important project right now, he says.

“It’s going to be a beautiful new building, a wonderful amenity . . . definitely a community gathering place,” Jarman says. “I think everyone’s going to be happy with it.”