The New Capitola Library
Bringing the Outside In
By Suki Wessling
The years of fundraising, wrangling over details, and suffering through closure and construction have paid off: the Capitola Library is open and it’s beautiful
The years of fundraising, wrangling over details, and suffering through closure and construction have paid off: the Capitola Library is open and it’s beautiful!
Melanee Barash, Branch Manager, showed me around before opening day and I was astounded by the thought put into the project, which was designed by architects Noll & Tam. There were several important elements that they wanted to integrate:
- The old library was comprised of several portables joined together, and thus didn’t have a single large meeting space
- Located in a seaside town, they wanted a non-cliché nautical theme and connection to nature
- The library is used by so many different members of the community and its space had to reflect their needs
The result is a building built with you in mind, no matter who you are! The children’s section is large and beautifully fun, offering leaf-shaped seating set into the walls, child-height tables, computer desks, and book stacks, and a direct connection with the outdoor play area.
For popular events, the community meeting room’s walls can be opened so that the space flows together.
Smaller study rooms can be open to the airy interior, or closed so that small groups or tutors can work undisturbed.
And perhaps the crowning achievement here is the new Teen Room.
“Before we had an aisle with books [for teens],” Melanee Barash explains. “We’re hoping, ‘If you build it, they’ll come.’ We have teen materials, cool spaces for them to sit and plug in, a whiteboard for them to do work.”
Like the meeting rooms, the teen room is connected with the library’s interior, but can be closed off to contain noise.
Standing in the interior near the fireplace, I pointed out that no matter where you are, the glass walls allow you to see the space as a contiguous whole, as well as always being connected with the trees and blue sky of the neighborhood.
“It’s the modern library,” Barash says. “[Library staff worked] with the architects to design it not just for the modern now but the future, because this building’s going to be here for a while!”