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Burlingame preps for main library construction: Upgrades aimed to fit 21st-century needs; project to start Aug. 11
July 14, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Construction is slated to begin Aug. 11 to upgrade Burlingame’s main Primrose Road library with the city hiring a construction firm to carry out the work.

The $3.5 million project will modify the downtown branch’s interior to meet the needs of modern patrons by providing flexible space for collaboration, creativity and exploration. The City Council awarded a $1.74 million construction contract to Zolman Construction and Development to create the new tech and media lab with updated computers and LCD screens, video conferencing capabilities, four group study rooms, new conference room that fits 20 people, expanded teen area, a Burlingame Library Foundation bookstore and café, along with new carpeting. Officials are excited for the changes, which are targeted to be completed in April 2015.

“I think our library is one of the intangible jewels of Burlingame,” said Mayor Michael Brownrigg. “It’s become a community center. The overall modernization will provide a lot more workspace. It will be more accessible and amenable. This extensive, but modest upgrade will allow a lot more useable space and technology.”

The library was built at its current downtown location in 1930. The last time it was reconstructed was in 1995. The technology in 1995 was very different from the technology we have today, said City Librarian Patricia Harding. A new automated materials handling, or check-in, system, similar to a one at the San Mateo Public Library, will help reduce repetitive stress injuries for workers, Harding said. Officials want to make sure the upgrades don’t take away from the traditional look of the library.

“Plans for the remodel are to keep with the historic style of the building,” said Patty Anixter, the Burlingame Library Foundation’s capital campaign chair. “What will change is the infrastructure.”

Although the majority of the outside of the building won’t be modified, the library’s ramp on the east side of the building, off of the parking lot, will be reconfigured to accommodate the new automated materials check-in system. The ramp will be closed from mid-August until the end of September.

The process to get an upgraded library has been a long one, said Vice Mayor Terry Nagel, who is happy the construction is moving forward.

“The fundraising effort is going well on behalf of the Library Foundation,” said Nagel. “We’ve been talking about that for a long time.”

The process was spearheaded by Harding four years ago when she took on her current role, transitioning from her position as library services manager. Community input helped shape how the new library will look, she said.

“I noticed when I became director that spaces were underutilized, yet we needed upgrades,” she said. “The furnishings will be the same, but the idea is you walk in and there’s all these services. … People are asking for more public spaces for startups and incubators and our Wi-Fi is very fast.”

The City Council has agreed to pledge $2.5 million, while the library foundation is charged with raising the remaining $1 million through donations and public fundraising. So far the library foundation has two-thirds of the $1 million pledged or donated since it began fundraising in November 2013, Harding said.

The library will stay open during renovations by doing the updates floor by floor, starting with the upper level and closing off one space at a time, Harding said. Each floor will take about three months, she said.

For those interested in giving contributions, gifts of $1,000 or more will be listed on the Burlingame Library Wall of Honor. Gifts of $5,000 or more include prominent recognition and special tours. Gifts above $10,000 include Honorary Membership in Escoffier Society. Gifts more than $25,000 include for a donor plaque, while gifts more than $50,000 include dignified donor plaque. Contributions of $100,000 or more may qualify for a naming opportunity. Go to to donate.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: library, gifts, harding, million, construction, include,

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