Phoenix Public Library will open a temporary branch at Park Central Mall on Friday, January 5. The branch is designed to provide library services for central Phoenix residents while renovations continue at Burton Barr Central Library, says Lee Franklin, community relations manager for Phoenix Public Library.
Burton Barr Central Library, the flagship of a 17-branch system, has been temporarily closed since sustaining storm-related damage on July 15, 2017. It’s scheduled to reopen during Summer 2018.
Library officials had hoped to open the temporary branch in December, but will open in early January instead. They’re holding an open house on Saturday, January 13, but the time and other details haven’t been announced yet.
The branch will be located in the basement level of Park Central Mall, which is situated along the Central line for Valley Metro Light Rail.
Customers will enter through an east-facing foyer situated between Jimmy John’s and Jamba Juice, then take an elevator to the new site. Library signage and a book drop will be situated outside the foyer entrance.
The 30,000-square-foot space once housed the Goldwater’s department store. Currently, it’s undergoing renovations including new drywall and carpeting, painting, and the addition of more lighting fixtures and electrical outlets.
Library officials expect to begin moving furniture, shelves, and library materials into the space during the final week of December.
The temporary branch will be open seven days a week, with similar hours to those at Burton Barr Central Library, Franklin says.
The branch will have books and other materials, as well as several library programs. Patrons will have access to about 50,000 items from Burton Barr Central Library, including a big part of the children’s collection.
“The emphasis here is to make materials available, have public access to computers, and offer teen and family programming,” Franklin says. The branch will have more than two dozen computers and free Wi-Fi.
The city’s lease for the site began in December and runs for nine months. So it’s likely there will be overlap between when Burton Barr Central Library reopens and when the temporary branch is closed.
Another tenant is slated to assume the space after that, Franklin says. That means the temporary branch can’t become a permanent addition, even if library patrons embrace the site and want it to remain open.
Renovations are ongoing at Burton Barr Central Library, where a faulty fire-suppression system caused flooding on all five floors on July 15. That’s when a storm damaged the building’s roof, where the fire suppression system was located.
The damage could have been prevented, according to a report that city manager Ed Zuercher submitted to Mayor Greg Stanton and the Phoenix City Council on Friday, October 27.
The report details maintenance issues, including damaged pipes in the fire suppression system, which went unrepaired for several years and was a leading cause of the flooding.
Two city employees were fired on October 23, and two received disciplinary measures, as a result. Two additional employees facing disciplinary measures were allowed to retire.
Another investigation, focusing on possible involvement of fire department personnel in conditions that led to the July 15 flooding, is currently underway. More disciplinary action may follow, depending on the results of that investigation.
Total repairs are expected to cost as much as $10 million, according to according to Zuercher’s October 27 memo. So far, insurance has covered $8 million in flooding-related costs, according to city officials.
In October, the Phoenix City Council approved spending $2.5 million for repairs and renovations on the first four floors. In November, it authorized another $2.3 million, for fifth-floor repairs including the roof and fire suppression system.
Thus far, the library has replaced damaged drywall, and started installing new carpets. Recently, several items from Burton Barr Central Library were set aside to be moved to the temporary branch before it opens.
Some parts of Burton Barr sustained little or no damage – including the Arizona Room, College Depot, and children’s area. The Rare Book Room was impacted by flooding, but materials contained in its vault were spared.
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Although library officials are hoping to reopen Burton Barr Central Library in June, no official date has been announced. And some library materials indicate only that the main branch will reopen during Summer 2018.
In the interim, most Burton Barr Central Library personnel, materials, and programs have been relocated to other branches in the Phoenix Public Library system.
Once the temporary branch opens at Park Central Library, it will be easier for patrons in central Phoenix to access library services.
“We’re going to try to make it as full-service as possible,” Franklin says.