SOLEDAD — Soledad Library has closed, along with all the other branches in Monterey County, but its closure was planned earlier in order to allow for a renovation that includes new carpet.
“Last August this building was 20 years old, so as you walk around you’ll see spots and wear and tear,” said Denise Campos, principal librarian for the Soledad branch, which is part of Monterey County Free Libraries. “Thousands of people come every year and it’s just time.”
The original plans were for the books to be hauled out through the end of March, then renovations to the carpet and paint to take place at the beginning of April. After time for paint to dry and carpet to set, shelves and books would return. Bookmobiles were scheduled to come in on a weekly basis to help patrons until the branch reopened on April 21.
The county library closure over coronavirus concerns has caused those plans to be reevaluated. There will be no bookmobile service while the entire county library system is shut down, since bookmobiles are operated by staff from other branches, such as the South County Bookmobile operated out of King City.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure some services are available, at least 24-7 online services are available,” Campos said. “People can download books at no charge, they can check their accounts, and they can download videos.”
Wi-Fi access for patrons was an area of concern, as the library has a computer room that is used by students for homework and by adults for job-related needs. The library was the place with internet for those who didn’t have access at home.
Bookmobiles have a Wi-Fi signal, but without them showing up, the only chance for internet might be if the branch leaves its signal on for patrons to access from outside.
The building is operated through a partnership between the county library system and the Soledad Unified School District. The district takes care of the facilities and exterior, while the library takes care of the interior supplies, such as the computers and books.
The installation is being overseen by the school district, while the library is overseeing the actual moving of books.
The timing of the closure for renovations was to coincide with spring break at local schools, which would impact area youth less than closing during the summer.
“Summer is our busiest time, so that would not have worked,” Campos said.
Eventually, the branch will reopen. Whether that is in April as scheduled or a later time is still to be determined.
“When the public comes back they’ll notice a positive difference,” Campos said. “Things might be moved around a little bit to try to make more room for programs.”
The new carpet will be deep blue with gold flecks and a solid color.
“It won’t have the design, what we affectionately call the basketball court,” Campos explained. “I think it’s going to be really tranquil.”
She said the renovation closure is the first of two phases, with most of the library facility getting new carpet this year. Next year, the computer lab and homework center will get new carpets.