Pico Neighborhood Embraces New Library; Thousands Visit During First Week

Friday, 2 May 2014, 6:21:00 AM

Brenton Garen

Pico Branch Library branch manager Cecilia Tovar said the first week of opening has been extremely busy, with 1,650 visitors welcomed in the first three days alone.
Photo by Brenton Garen
Pico Branch Library branch manager Cecilia Tovar said the first week of opening has been extremely busy, with 1,650 visitors welcomed in the first three days alone.

The Santa Monica Public Library system has begun a new chapter with the opening of its newest branch -- the first in more than 50 years -- in the Pico neighborhood.

The Pico Branch Library, located at 2201 Pico Boulevard at Virginia Avenue Park, opened last Thursday and is currently in a soft-open mode.

An official grand opening ceremony and festival is scheduled for Saturday, June 28, from 11 am to 4 pm.

In the first three days that the Pico Branch was open, it welcomed nearly 1,650 visitors.

Branch manager Cecilia Tovar said the response had been extremely positive.

"The neighborhood has been waiting for this library for a long time, so they were really happy to see it open and be part of it," Tovar said. "People are already checking out books, they're getting their library cards, if they need to renew them, they are renewing them, and the study rooms are being used."

Tovar said the library was especially busy during its first week between 3 pm and 6 pm on school days.

"When students get out of school they have a place to come and do their own homework," she said.

Need a library card?

Tovar said Santa Monica residents could present a photo ID with their home address and fill out an application to receive a free library card.

"If the photo ID doesn't have their current address, they need to bring a bill to prove they are a resident of Santa Monica," she said. "If they are not a Santa Monica resident, they can pay $25 for a year and all they need is photo ID, fill out the application, and they will receive a library card."

Tovar said the library's collection was brand new.

"We also have early literacy stations, they are not connected to the internet, but they are educational programs for kids," she said. "We have lots of brand new technology here in the library, especially the book sorter. The type of service weÕre trying to give here at this library is more roving reference. We will be walking around and answering questions."

While the other libraries have self-checkout abilities, Tovar said the Pico Branch would try and expand this function to close to 100 percent of checkouts.

Nestled in between the Thelma Terry Center and the Farmers Market zone, the Pico Branch is located in the heart of the Virginia Avenue Park campus and is designed programmatically to enhance early literacy, lifelong learning, and to complement Park programs.

The Pico Branch is stocked with a brand new collection of 25,000 materials for adults, teens and children. In addition to popular books, movies, music, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers, the collection includes materials in Spanish and large print books.

Designed by Koning Eizenberg Architecture of Santa Monica, the 8,690 square-foot branch features a single-story, two-building design, with the main 7,872 square-foot library facility providing a children's space, tables and seating, three group study rooms, reading areas, public computers, early literacy computers, copy center, self-service checkout, and self-service checkin using an automated materials handling system.

The Annex, a separate, 818 square-foot community room, is connected to the library by a roofline trellis with solar panels.

The Annex provides space for story times, after-school activities, summer reading programs, book clubs, film screenings, do-it-yourself activities, educational, informational and cultural programs and will be available for public rental.

Santa Monica Public Library branch hours are 12 pm to 9 pm Monday through Thursday, noon to 5:30 pm on Friday, and 10 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday (closed Sunday).

The Pico Branch is wheelchair accessible. Big Blue Bus line 7 serves the Pico neighborhood; and bicycle parking racks are available.

For more information, visit www.smpl.org/PicoBranch.aspx.

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