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Library set for revamp: Burlingame foundation raising money for modern features
March 17, 2014, 05:00 AM By Samson So Daily Journal

City Librarian Patricia Harding, left, and Patty Anixter, vice president of the Burlingame Library Foundation and head of the Capital Campaign committee, in an underused reference area of the Burlingame Library that will be renovated.

An artist's rendering of the proposed improvements.

In the ever-changing world of technology and information, the Burlingame Public Library is spearheading a campaign to renovate parts of the interior for the modern age while maintaining the building’s historic integrity.

The Burlingame Library Foundation, a nonprofit that helps maintain the service and groundwork of the library, is campaigning to renovate multiple sections of the main branch downtown.

Some of the major additions include an expanded teen room, a café and a used bookstore in the main level.

A technology lab and several new study rooms are also in line to be added in the lower level. The upper level will feature conference rooms for community and business uses.

Each of these levels will also have updated computers and LCD screens to accommodate the community’s needs.

Lisa Rosenthal, president of the Burlingame Library Board of Trustees, stresses the need for the library to use its resources to the best of its abilities.

“We won’t be doing anything to the outside of the building,” said Rosenthal. “It’s all changing the spaces of the library to make them more useful for the kinds of activities that go on in libraries today.

“For instance, right now we have a whole space down there that is sitting empty. So, that’s indicative of the reasons why the space has to be reconfigured to meet the needs of today’s library. The shelves are empty right now because the reference books in that area are gone.”

This reference area is empty because of the growing trend of using the Internet to answer research questions.

City Librarian Patricia Harding reiterates how the library needs to stay relevant in this day and age.

“The last time the library was renovated was in 1995, so the technology in 1995 was very different from the technology we have today. This building doesn’t even have enough electrical outlets for the technology today. With that, expectations also are growing and this (renovation) will bring us into the 21st century of technology. It’s going to be a very flexible space that can grow as times change.”

One of the major plans for the library involves having a center for technology, where people can take free classes and have access to different programs, including Lego building, robotics and computer education training, as well as many other subjects.

“The library is the public’s university,” Harding said. “It really brings back knowledge to people and allows them a space to learn.”

The library and the city of Burlingame have budgeted that the renovation will cost approximately $3.5 million. The Burlingame City Council has agreed to pledge $2.5 million and trusts that the foundation will be able to raise the remaining $1 million through donations and public fundraising.

Patty Anixter, vice president of the Burlingame Library Foundation and head of the Capital Campaign committee, is in charge of raising the necessary funds for the renovation.

“In four months, we have raised $445,000, getting contributions from Hillsborough, Burlingame and other community foundations,” said Anixter. “We first had our entire campaign committee give a personal donation, so a hundred percent of the committee has donated to the project.”

Mayor Michael Brownrigg has also emphasized the need for the community and City Council to work together in future development plans.

“The City Council has decided to challenge foundation with coming up with a significant amount of funding and contributions to a project,” says Brownrigg. “Partnerships with private groups set priorities and commitments will make projects better for taxpayers in the future.”

The foundation plans to start construction this summer and be done by spring 2015. Concerns of the library’s open hours have also been addressed.

“We’re not going to close the building,” said Harding. “We’re going to do the renovation floor by floor, starting with this upper level and we’ll close off one space at a time, so that the building itself will be open to the public. You’ll still have access to materials that are in each area by asking any staff members for help.”

For more information about the Burlingame Library Foundation go to



Tags: library, burlingame, technology,

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