Library representatives said this week that the public has shown support for a new, larger central library — which could cost around $100 million, according to early estimates.
The Burbank Central Library has needed modernization and expansion since 1989, according to Elizabeth Goldman, director of library services. City Council members appeared to agree, directing city staff members on Tuesday to continue the study on a potential new library, agreeing that more technology and accessibility options were needed.
“The Burbank Central Library has the dubious honor of being one of the City of Burbank’s most neglected facilities and has long ceased to be able to meet the needs of the public it serves,” Goldman wrote in a staff report.
Ruth Baleiko, a representative from the Miller Hull Partnership consulting group the city contracted with to provide guidance on the project, explained that after the city agreed to conduct a study on the matter last year, residents have expressed support for including spaces for public meetings and art, increasing accessibility and promoting technology learning.
She added that the current central library has a high number of library visits but suffers from too much “support” space — stairs, hallways and other areas not often actively used by staff or patrons.
The recommended option, which was supported by multiple council members, is to build a replacement library on Glenoaks Boulevard across the street from the current location. It would be a significant growth from the current 47,000-square-foot building with an additional 69,000 square feet of site space to a 67,500-square-foot building with an additional 122,500 square feet of site space.
However, the estimated project cost for that option’s construction, site and parking is $103.8 million, a price council members agreed was not inconsequential.
The City Council asked staff to look into infrastructure grants and private-public partnerships for the next update on the project. Money has previously been an obstacle for the city’s main library; in 2003, 68% of local voters approved a measure that would have funded improvements for the facility — though the initiative failed because the city couldn’t obtain matching funds from the state.
Other common ideas from the public for a potential new central library included more meeting rooms, a cafe, an expanded Spark! digital media lab and comfortable reading areas. Consultants also recommended that a new building be all-electric and that the site capture rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing.
Mayor Bob Frutos further suggested that a potential new central library could be used as an emergency center, serving as a cooling station during a heat wave or a temporary shelter in the case of a natural disaster.
“Based on the millions of dollars it’s going to cost, I’d definitely hope … that part of the study has to deal with this library especially for the needs of the community in a disaster,” he said.
Few details, including the projected cost of the potential new library, are set in stone. Goldman told council members that the earliest the city could see a groundbreaking for a new facility would be three or four years.