At the council’s Sept. 11 meeting, Cindy Tumin, Friends member and Oakley representative to the Contra Costa County Library Commission, proposed moving the library to the now vacant CentroMart building on Main Street.
“In these financially trying times, library usage is up countywide,” Tumin told the council. “Many of our residents do not have transportation to reach the library in its current location. Relocating the Oakley Library to a downtown location would allow our library staff to better serve the community by making it accessible to the children and financially disadvantaged residents – those members of our community who need it the most.”
Oakley’s library has been a part of the Freedom High School campus for 12 years. With no room to expand, the librarians have done as much as possible to utilize the 3,000-square-foot space, but there isn’t enough room to accommodate all those who want to sit and read or use the computers. When new books are brought to the library, older books must be taken out to make space.
Parking is also a problem. The library shares its parking lot with Freedom High School students and visitors, and depending on the time of day, finding a convenient parking place can be challenging.
Tumin told the council that the CentroMart building could be an ideal home for the library. Its 16,000 square feet would provide plenty of space for inventory, tables and chairs, a computer station and a community meeting room. Tumin also suggested that the space could include a coffee shop to provide a retail draw to the downtown area.
Library patron Michelle Jones urged the council to work with the Friends of the Oakley Library to find a downtown location where the library would be more visible. “Our city is growing; our world is growing; our technology is growing. Everybody needs to have this available. I hope you’ll really consider this.”
City Manager Bryan Montgomery said that since renovating the CentroMart building would be far easier than constructing a new library elsewhere downtown, the CentroMart property could be a perfect fit for the library. Earlier this year, the council decided to enter an agreement with DG Market to open a small grocery store, but when the corporation decided it would rather use the property to open one of its dollar stores, the council took the deal off the table. While the city has courted other potential tenants, none of those partnerships have come to fruition.
Tumin said another possible location for the library, should the CentroMart building prove not to be a viable location, is the County Sheriff’s station on O’Hara Avenue.
The City Council is set to discuss a new location for the library at its Oct. 23 meeting.
For more information, visit the Oakley Library’s Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/UuYOix.