Public Comment

New: LIBRARIES: Overhaul Fails

By Phil Allen
Wednesday March 26, 2014 - 09:46:00 AM

Impression of the now-completed Berkeley libraries' physical overhaul: the same as new coinage, especially the flip side of pennies, and the latest counterfeit-proof bills. Play money, pretend communalities. 

The anticipated West Branch, finished after South's rebuild, is a bleached tomb. The industrial-sized back doors are an affront to the purpose of the place, a way outside to nothing in particular. The noise problem was apparently never an issue with the architects, as no abatement from the previous building's racket-sharing is noticeable. 

Different design firms must have been hired, as the smaller South Branch seems to have had more considerate minds in its planning: the walls are warmly colored and mosaiced, the spaces more inviting than West's. The large lobby area is rather awkward; it belongs in a bigger building. 

The new Main Branch is sad. One seeks a proper 'main desk' in vain, the floors seem intentionally talkative when chairs are being adjusted, and the pea-soup exterior, originally suggested by the architect, could really use some gold or turquoise relief coloring. 

These, of course, are hopeless wailings. We're stuck with these efforts until the Flood. What we must be vigilant over is the always-possible removal of irreplacable sources, and other sneak attacks on access to lore we can hold in our hands.