The city of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Public Library (SPL) on Oct. 6 held two gatherings to collect community input on its future Elk Grove Library.
Plans are to move operations from the current library to its future site at the former Rite Aid store building on the corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road.
The current, two-story Elk Grove Library operates in a city-owned structure at the southeast corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Elk Grove-Florin Road in Old Town.
Elk Grove is also served by the Franklin Community Library at 10055 Franklin High Drive.
SPL Deputy Director Jarrid Keller said that the target date to open Elk Grove’s newest library is September 2023.
“There are a lot of factors in this, but we are confident that the city of Elk Grove is going to make great strides to make this a reality for the community,” he said.
The current Elk Grove Library, which opened in 2008, has since outgrown its intended use, noted Cathy Crosthwaite, SPL deputy director, while standing next to the present library building on Elk Grove Boulevard.
“Elk Grove has shown tremendous growth throughout the years, and the library at this location is no longer able to serve the community in the way that it needs to be served, with library services,” she said. “One of the big factors is (the current) parking lot.
“It’s a struggle to get in; it’s a struggle to find parking. So, the new site at the old Rite Aid building’s parking is plentiful. The floor plan is wonderful. I mean, going from a two-story to a one-story, (the) open plan is going to give us so many more opportunities.”
Rivkah Sass, SPL library director and CEO, referred to the current Elk Grove Library building as a “logistical nightmare.”
“Yes, it’s great, because it’s located near a school, but we also need people to get there,” she said. “This (location) is so difficult.
“The space is small. We’re doing a good thing (with the new library). We’re not building a new building. We’re saving a building that has good bones, and turning it into something wonderful. That’s a testament to the city’s vision. It’s really creative reuse.”
Crosthwaite told the Citizen that the main reason for the Oct. 6 events at the current Elk Grove Library location and later that day at the Old Town Plaza, was to find out what services the community would like to have at the new library.
“We’ve got lots of different (options),” she said. “Do we want a passport service in the area, do we need more emphasis on computers? Do we need maker space? We need to find out from the community.
“I don’t live in Elk Grove, so I don’t know what exactly the community wants. But I certainly can provide it to them, as long as it’s within the realm of what the Sacramento Public Library can do. We can do a lot.”
During the event at the library’s current location, the community participated in an activity of placing green-colored, adhesive backed dots on a board to indicate what options they desired for the new library.
Some of the most popular options included a lending library, homework help, new technology, gaming, a cozy, comfortable environment, and art and culture.
The community also provided their design preference for the architectural style of the future library.
Dawn Merkes, the principal in charge, with the architectural firm working on the project – Group 4 Architecture – commented on the community’s interest in the future library.
“(Community participation at the Oct. 6 event at the current library) really reflects the commitment of the community,” she said.
“The city administration is listening to the community and they’re really out there working to deliver it. It sounds like a long time, but in the big picture of a new construction of a project, it’s a very short time. And so, (the library is) coming.”
Paul Lindsay, president of the Friends of the Elk Grove Library, said that the local Friends group will play a role with the new library.
“No matter whether (the library) is here or there, we aim to support the operations of the library,” he said. “That involves things like financial support or things that they need, but aren’t budgeted. Things that involve just people coming out and helping them.
“I think (the excitement for the new library) is very high amongst the Friends.”
Crosthwaite noted that one of SPL’s goals for the new library is to have it serve as a drop-off location for election ballots.
“I look forward to doing elections at the (former) Rite Aid building, even if it’s just a ballot box,” she said.
Sass concluded that there are many other alternatives for the new Elk Grove Library.
“We don’t even know what the library of the future looks like,” she said. “What’s the future of a library? If COVID(-19) has done nothing else, it has changed how we do everything. I think we have to think about these things, and how will the way people use libraries change?”
As for the current Elk Grove Library building’s post-library future, Elk Grove city spokesperson Kristyn Laurence said that no plans have been made.
“A decision has not been made,” she said. “We have received a few suggestions for discussion, but we likely won’t make a decision until after the library moves.”