Library finds temporary home

Posted on April 11, 2011 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Burlingame Hall, the event space of The First Congregational Church, will be the temporary home of the Sonoma Public Library while the branch building undergoes a major renovation.

The library will begin moving into the space at 252 West Spain St. in June or July, according to Branch Manager Stephan Buffy.

Construction is slated to begin August 8 on the vacated branch at 755 W. Napa. The city-owned building will be outfitted with new heating and air systems, along with energy-efficient upgrades. The project could take up to a year to complete.

The deadline was looming for the library search committee tasked with finding a vacant space of up to 10,000 sq. ft. “We’d been looking for an alternate site for a long time,” Buffy said. “We’d nearly exhausted all the potential locations.”

Burlingame Hall was not in the conversation until recently, according to Brian Smucker, church moderator. The idea emerged from the church and was embraced by library officials. “It came about very quickly,” he said.

“Our congregation is thrilled to be able to provide space to the library,” Smucker added. “We have the full support of Congregation Shir Shalom and Old Adobe School, which both have ongoing leases on the church grounds.”

The library board and the church have agreed to broad terms, with lease details still to be negotiated. On Sunday, the full congregational voted unanimously to approve the plan.

The church will lose the ability to rent the hall for weddings and events as well as its own meetings. For some events, such as Congregation Shir Shalom’s High Holy Days, the church will rent space elsewhere.

“We’ll have to do some shuffling around,” Smucker said.

The new space is about one-third the size of the current facility. “We won’t be able to do everything, but we will do the most important things,” said Mary Evelyn Arnold, Sonoma Valley library commissioner.

“It’s a good place to be for a temporary home,” she said.

Smucker said the church has a history of making itself available to community partners over the years, including a child care center, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Vintage House, Old Adobe School and Congregation Shir Shalom.

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