Droves of Palo Alto residents turned out Dec. 6 for the long-awaited grand opening of the $46 million Mitchell Park Library and Community Center and were treated to story times, art projects, tours and more.
The ribbon-cutting with Mayor Nancy Shepherd and remarks by city staff and elected officials launched the day of celebration at the facility at 3700 Middlefield Road.
The opening came more than two-and-a-half years after the initial deadline. The budget remained well within the bounds of the library bond voters approved in 2008, though it exceeded what the city was hoping to pay by $10 million due to protracted problems with the contractor.
At more than 40,000 square feet, the library is far bigger than any other city branch and about four times the size of the old Mitchell Park Library. The first floor includes a program room capable of accommodating 100 people, smaller rooms for teens to study in and a huge "Kids Place" that includes a patio, a kitchenette and the glowing storytime nook. There is also a computer lab where young residents will be able to reserve a machine on a first-come, first-served basis.
Two more computer labs are available upstairs, adjacent to rows upon rows of bookcases, study areas and magazine racks. The facility can hold up to 140,000 materials. Also included are a garden roof and furnished patios on both floors of the two-story building
The 16,180-square-foot community center is built around a spacious courtyard with a California Coastal Live Oak tree in the middle. The center is envisioned as south Palo Alto's primary hive for community gatherings and classes, ranging from karate and yoga to art, graphic design and cooking. Visitors can also shoot hoops at an outdoor half-court that was christened last year by Paly basketball phenom Jeremy Lin.
The new Teen Center includes tables for Foosball, pool and air hockey, as well as four large TVs. It will host Open Mic nights, include an after-school program for middle school students and have an evening drop-in program for high school students twice a week.
A cafe, Ada's Cafe, is also part of the complex.
To see photos and comments about the event, go to Twitter.com and search for #mymitchell.