Next month, the Morro Bay Public Library will reopen at its Harbor Street location with a marine theme and a fresh, roomier look.
The library at 625 Harbor St. underwent a massive overhaul that started in July under the direction of local architect Shana Reiss.
The remodel entailed removing two main interior walls and rearranging the setup to allow 30 percent more space for books, magazines, newspapers, CDs and DVDs.
“It’s a beautiful new structure that’s not like any other government building in the county,” said Robert “Red” Davis, the president of the Morro Bay Friends of the Library.
Davis said the new-look library features a maritime motif that reflects the history and heritage of Morro Bay.
The maritime theme includes a wall near the entrance that’s dark blue with a rippling effect like an ocean current.
On an opposite wall with donor plaques is a representation of Morro Rock. Volunteers are trying to find an anchor to complete the display.
The Morro Bay Friends of the Library raised more than $500,000 to pay for the project, including a $100,000 contribution from Bertha Shultz, who died in 2013.
Shultz was a longtime Morro Bay resident who moved to Atascadero toward the end of her life. Shultz left millions of dollars in her trust to local organizations she supported, including $1 million each to the Atascadero Fire Department, Morro Bay Fire Department and Cuesta College.
In addition to Shultz’s gift, many smaller donations made the library project possible.
“That’s the part that really warms my heart,” Davis said. “The community really came through to support the library, and that says a lot about what it means to them.”
The library also received a community development block grant of $80,000, allocated through the county, to upgrade the library’s restrooms to make them handicap accessible.
The library has been closed since June 21 and will reopen sometime in February, likely later in the month. No date has been set. A re-opening ceremony is scheduled for March 1 from 2 to 4 p.m.
Additional new features of the library include an enlarged teen section, more computer stations with six computers and space for people to bring their own devices, and a patio enclosure to help hold events and gatherings outside. Free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the building.
Before it opens, the library will need to fill the shelves with its 24,259 books and 5,561 audio-visual items. Its extra room has allowed the library to order several hundred dollars worth of new books.
“The remodel has opened up the building more completely,” said branch library Jackie Kinsey. “We have a beautiful meeting room, a patio with usable space, and the traffic flow is much better.”
Kinsey said before the library’s closure, it was serving about 400 people per day.
During the shutdown, it operated nearby out of a city facility that used to be the old transit center at 525 Harbor St., serving 200 people per day.
“We have been pleasantly surprised to serve that many people in the temporary building,” Kinsey said.
The library’s programs include children’s story time on Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m., a book discussion group on Wednesdays at 10 a.m., as well as a North Coast Writers club meeting from 10 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of the month.
The library’s new hours will be Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.