Morro Bay Library to close until January for renovation

While the Morro Bay Library is closed for renovations, a temporary facility will be open down the street.
While the Morro Bay Library is closed for renovations, a temporary facility will be open down the street.

The Morro Bay Library will close Saturday for the rest of the year while its nearly 30-year-old building is remodeled. Workers will reconfigure the interior of 625 Harbor St. to increase its usable space by a third.

“I remember frequenting the Morro Bay Library as a child, so it has been a pleasure to reconnect with the building, community and staff to create a new space that will serve and inspire the next generation,” project architect Shana Reiss said.

A temporary library will operate one block away at the old transit center, 535 Harbor St., until the renovations are done in January.

The remodel is designed to add space to the facility by changing its layout inside without adding on to the 6,300-square-foot building. There will be larger selections of books, DVDs and CDs and designated reading spaces for adults, teens and children. Also to come will be new restrooms accessible to the disabled, a single-entry reception area and better visual connectivity overall. Behind the scenes, the work will improve functional areas such as storage, administration and circulation.

A tile mural on the outside of the building will not be affected.

The project is spearheaded by the Morro Bay Friends of the Library group, which has been fundraising for better library facilities for more than a decade.

San Luis Obispo County operates the library in a building it leases from the city, but large library upgrades aren’t in the county’s budget. While the Friends group is funding the roughly $500,000 project, the county will pay for the new public restrooms with an $80,000 federal grant, said Robert Fuller Davis, president of the Friends group.

While his organization had been fundraising with book sales and community donations for years, plans recently took a sharper focus.

“The Friends began accumulating money about 12 years ago without having a specific plan,” Davis said. “Three years ago, with about $300,000 in our bank account, we formed a committee to develop a plan of action.”

The group hired an architect, with the county’s permission, “and everyone collaboratively designed a completely new interior,” Davis said.

In April 2013, the group began fundraising with the new layout in mind. Later that year, those plans got a major boost when former Morro Bay resident Bertha Schultz donated $100,000 to the Friends group before she died.

“That was an unexpected windfall that helped us reach our goal during the spring of 2014,” Davis said.

The remodel project kicks off today at the library with a community party from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is invited.

The building will close at 5 p.m., and party guests can then join a group walk to the temporary library next to City Hall. The temporary location will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday, organizers said.