News


Palo Alto holds grand opening of Mitchell Park Library

Mayor officially welcomes public to long-awaited library and community center with ribbon cutting

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.

Palo Alto puts finishing touches on new flagship library (Nov. 2)

Watch a video of the new library

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Library User
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I have been there a couple of times but wasn't at the opening today.

I like the space from the inside, lots of computers but would prefer if the catalog terminals had more space for putting my handbag while I search through the catalog or for hunting for my library card.
The seats are nice, but I hope that people will not eat and spill coffee from Adas as if they dirty they will quickly become gross.
The book return outside look like ATMs, I missed them completely and set off a buzzer when I took my returning books inside. They are a little tricky to get used to, but I am sure I will do better next time. I am disappointed that there isn't a drive thru book return.
The plaza/patio is a nice space.
The teen centers inside and outside are interesting, I would like to hear what the teens think of them.
The basketball area likewise, "Jeremy Lin played here" .
The various electric charging stations are likely to be used more for people outside the area, I would imagine, and car pool spaces/car share spaces have no definition of what they mean. Can parents with children use them? Are they for ZipCars?
When entering from Middlefield Road, it is not clear if cars must keep right. I assumed that since the line ended it meant that all traffic should keep right, but as I was exiting, I found cars going in both directions. This is likely to cause problems if it is meant to be a one way design as it appeared to me.
What will stop Fairmeadow/Little League cars parking and/or using the parking lot as a short cut to avoid the Middlefield/Meadow light? I imagine that in the morning there will be a lot of bikes using the parking lot as a means of getting to Hoover, Fairmeadow and of course JLS. Bikes will have to be very careful with cars backing out. I think there is a bike accident waiting to happen here.
The plants growing on the outside wall appear to be flourishing at present, but will look odd if they don't survive well. As soon as we get a few freezing nights, it will be interesting to see how they do.
Once you enter the parking lot, it is a pleasant enough building but has no symmetry and the yellow plastic bits look cheap and broken even though I don't think they are broken. However, the ugly purple on the back of the building is the first thing seen when approaching NB from Middlefield. I think that the service area of a building should not be visible from the street, but that is just my opinion. I still think that the view from that approach is reminiscent of Ikea.
The staff in the library are very pleasant and helpful. It has been a pleasure to use the new facility.


8 people like this
Posted by Parking!
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2014 at 8:54 am

The facility is underparked.

Since the city was involved with the design, and has a well-funded traffic department, it can be assumed that this was an intentional decision.

Deciding to underpark a library does not benefit the current residents and library patrons.

Who does it benefit? Those who want to prove their ideological loyalty?


2 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

What is the best child-safe bicycle route to the new library? We live in midtown, near the Bryant bicycle boulevard. Not interested in bicycling on Middlefield Road because of the rampant speeding and distracted driving on that street. Thanks.


4 people like this
Posted by plants on the front
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

Library user mentions the odd plants scheme on the front
I think they already failed once sometime ago and were re-planted. Seems an odd expenditure. I also would prefer more parking for cars.


3 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 7, 2014 at 11:51 am

@Parent
We rode to the opening yesterday from north Palo Alto on the Bryant Bike Boulevard and then turned left onto the East Meadow bike lane, which is safe and fast. It's about a 15 minute ride from our home, probably 5-10 minutes from Midtown with kids, and no parking issues, of course. If you want to stay off of all arterials, you can use one of the side streets, such as El Verano, to cut over to Cowper and cross at the signal at Cowper and East Meadow right at the park entrance.
BTY, my wife Sally had to run home at midday and then return to hear one of the bands. Even repeating the ride was fast and easy, not to mention a chance to get some exercise rather than sitting in the car each way.
I look froward to riding regularly to the library/community center and, especially, hanging out at Ada's Cafe.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Where is the outside drive-up drop-off box to return library materials without having to park the car?

I couldn't find one like they have at the Temporary Main or the Downtown Branch

Given the problems finding parking, if there's not a drive-up drop-off box, there sure should be.

Also, I think closing at 5PM on Sunday is too early.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 1:12 am

Can't wait to go see this library. It looks great every time I've driven by. I am concerned about what people are saying about parking ... if there are not enough parking places that would really be just another screwup by a City that keeps grabbing for more and more money when they never show they can manage what they have well.


5 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 8, 2014 at 7:20 am

Why should this library and community center have more parking? The complex is located in a dense area within easy walking distance of schools, is on a street with lots of bus routes, and is easy to bike to -- especially for anyone in south Palo Alto. There is more than enough parking available for those of us that aren't able to walk, take a bus or bike.


5 people like this
Posted by Library User
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 8, 2014 at 7:54 am

I think what people are forgetting about the parking is that for most of us, we don't visit the library on a single trip from home. For most of us, we are doing the library in an errand run or stopping off on our way home. Therefore parking is important. Most of us will be parked for less than 30 minutes as we drop off or pick up books or materials.

With all the community rooms, these will draw people to spend longer times at the library. We don't know who exactly will use these rooms and where the attendees of these events will come from. If there are two or three rooms with separate meetings occurring at the same time I can see people using Little League and Mitchell Park as overspill parking.

It will probably take 12 months to see how the library is going to be used and to see how the parking situation works out. I feel sure a drive through drop off will make a big difference. Also the defining of who should use the carpool/carshare spots, not that there is any way of knowing how many people a parked car arrived with.


4 people like this
Posted by Two miles away
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

We're not able to ride bicycles to the library; walking would be more than a half hour each way, and riding a bus will actually take longer (considering that we cannot rearrange our work and school schedules around the bus routes).

Are the parking spots available for patrons all handicapped spots, or is the thinking that anyone who drives should be able to park near the library?


1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2014 at 9:48 am

Please do not make more parking lots. There's already a parking lot at Mitchell Park plus the Library parking. Then there's street parking along Middlefield from the Little League Field to the Creek. If [portion removed] suburbanites can't walk the 100 yards from their car to the Library, maybe they should stick to front door delivery of everything.


2 people like this
Posted by MadamPresident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2014 at 10:56 am

I am with Susan & others who say no more parking! 30 min work to the library instead of drive will benefit the environment & your health, people!


5 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2014 at 11:01 am

So when is the library going to finally make the books in storage available for checkout? I went through my old list of books I'd tried to reserve over the past several years and the online catalog still shows the books as X OWNED but they're still 0 AVAILABLE.

Yes, we're doing multiple errands. Stop being so self-righteous.

Re parking, much of the Mitchell Park lot is full. You can't go to the dog park until 4 when you can park in the Hoover School lot and then you're lucky if you can find spots because of all the soccer players. And no, my dog can't take the bus or bike.


5 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 8, 2014 at 11:51 am

You really need a drive through book return and more parking.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Wasn't this a $25 M project?
Now, it's $46M.

I say we are done with bond measures for awhile.

(Although so far I am liking the Mitchell Center; I like it a lot better at $25 M however)

And we are drafting a petition to move the Jeremy Lin sign to JLS where it is at least historically accurate.


5 people like this
Posted by Real World
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm

@Madam President,
We have made a point of walking to our closest library (Los Altos, even though we are residents of Palo Alto), and it's not trivial to walk a few miles with 10 or 20 pounds of materials to return, more on the way home, and kids in tow. Frankly, I have to not only drive most of the time, I have to take care that I bring the right bags. When it gets dark early, this is just simply impractical and unsafe.

Now try crossing Alma, Middlefield, El Camino, and navigating the gauntlets that are El Camino Way and Arastradero to my side of town if we wanted to walk to the Mitchell Park library.

Perhaps you would like to volunteer to take your bike from Old Palo Alto in the dark to my place and carry our books so we can walk more often? (The blatant hypocrisy of most of the same people who would never think of, oh, hitting Costco on their bike in the dark is breathtaking.)

I'm tired of all the magical thinking by people who think the solution to everything is to make everyone take a bike, no matter how unrealistic.


Like this comment
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm

After reading through the comments on the Mitchell Park Library, I'll stay with AMAZON!!


3 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm

@Barbara. Good for you if you can afford to buy everything at Amazon. Public libraries, with books available for free, are the backbone of literacy for all.


6 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

For $46,000,000 -- almost twice the original cost of $25,000,000 - PA should be able to afford at least a few drive-up drop-off boxes.

So glad that all our city officials -- City Manager, City Attorney, etc. -- all awarded themselves raises along with their "extra" pay. I guess $24,000,000 in cost over-runs and legal fees is a were pittance for doing such a great job.

Again, when are the books that have been in storage for lo these many years going to finally be available for checkout?


4 people like this
Posted by Library User
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Beautiful inside, very nice layout. Parking is definitely inadequate. My suggestion is to reduce the number of spaces held for special use and make them available to everyone. And why is there no curb cutout for bicycles or anyone who would have trouble with the curb?


3 people like this
Posted by Annie
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I love all the new bike racks, but we need some curb cutouts to be able to get our bikes to the racks. It's not that easy to haul a heavy bike (and books) up the curb.


2 people like this
Posted by nice design!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm

The new library looks great! And, Mitchell Park has a ton of parking. I don't know why everyone wants to construct more parking lots in a place that is already full of parking??

And yes, bikes are a good option. There are also bus/ shuttle stops right near the library. And lots of kids can now walk there from school.

I'm amazed that the first thing people want to complain about when they got a beautiful new library is parking (oh, and "how can I not have to get out of my car to drop off my books in a drive-through")


5 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On parking:
The MP Library is not convenient to all of south Palo Alto. For example, I live 2.1 miles from the library. And there are many that live more than 1.7 miles from the library. As to accessibly by bus -- yeah right.

Remember that there are lots of seniors who can't walk or bicycle this distance. For a number of them, walking from their car into the library and back is an effort. The City, and bicycle advocates, have a habit of underestimating this need (based on feedback I hear from such seniors).

And for parents with small children, El Camino is a major barrier. Since so many bicycle advocates refuse to acknowledge this problem, an example: A few weeks ago, I was on El Camino and a father and two children were attempting to cross on bikes. The smaller child fell in the second lane and got tangled up in the bike. While the father tried to help him, the other child froze near the median, unsure whether to proceed or go back. A very dangerous situation because on a multi-lane road, such pedestrians/bikers can be invisible to drivers because they are hidden by other cars. If I had been parent, I would have walked the children across -- but the discussion is *not* about what you or I would have done, but rather what people do.


5 people like this
Posted by Reads a lot
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2014 at 2:02 am

I agree with others, we need more drop off book slots and more parking. I usually do errands for the family and the library is one of many stops. I need to park and return approx. 5 books at a time. For all this money, you would think the basics would have been covered!!


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 6:22 am

Susan said
>> Why should this library and community center have more parking? The complex is located in a dense area within easy walking distance of schools, is on a street with lots of bus routes, and is easy to bike to

It's really easy to say something like this and pander to people who want to think of themselves as green, but is the goal to be green for green's sake or to get the library working for the people of Palo Alto?

When I go to the Library I want to go to the Library. I don't want to park 2 block away and carry whatever I have some number of blocks, maybe in the rain or cold, or maybe I have a sore foot or 6 kids to look after.

I think that is a nicely motivated but ultimately thoughtless regard that the City keys off of and thinks it is such a great idea to make use of the folks who will mindlessly support breaking things for everyone else to encourage greenness.

I already know at the Newell Library there were many occasions where they was just nowhere to park in that entire huge parking lot. People would park along the lane and make it difficult for others to get in and out. When you make people miserable for the life of a structure I don't think that is really being green, that is not what appropriate technology and use of resources is all about.


2 people like this
Posted by Wha?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:21 am

Makes me sad that 90% of these comments are negative. Parking could be better, as in almost every area of PA. And the curb right in front is for a quick pick up or drop off of people or books. The one thing I do wish is better signage in the parking lot - it is confusing.
Did you come in the library? Did you not have a single good thing to say about the library? I know there are positive people out there, so let's hear from them. Did you attend opening day and have a blast? I would love to hear those stories.
Also, I hear that most of the books in storage are from the Main collection, and when Rinconada opens in January, 2015, those books will once again be available.


2 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

Online Name is a registered user.

I've now been informed that we'll finally have access to the books that have been in storage for years by February of next year. Sigh.


2 people like this
Posted by Dropoff box
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I have some recollection o a discussion during the design meetings, of a driveup dropoff. For some reason I can't recall, they decided it wouldn't work.
So I don't think it is an oversight.
Ridiciulous, yes.
Maybe the solution will be to return books to Main, where there is a dropoff box.
Come to think of it, the City Manager promised Main would reopen at the same time s Mitchell. Not another delay???


3 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Of course they consciously decided drop-off boxes wouldn't work even though they work just fine at the other library branches. Even the temporary Main has a 5-minute curve with parking next to the drop-off box. But the designers and planners would have to get out of their office to have a clue, something they seem to rarely do as rarely as responding to emails or calls.

Instead, they REMOVE useful features like the drop-off bikes and curb cuts for bikes that would show some awareness of what's worked in the past and some thoughtfulness and consideration, traits that have been sorely lacking during this whole boondoggle.
ries.

But hey, let's give the planners and lawyers more bonuses for being 2.5 years late and $25,000,000 over budget, not counting legal fees. It's the Palo Alto Way.


Like this comment
Posted by Well done!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Well done! The library is beautiful. My kids love it. I love it. My husband loves it. A two mile bike ride to get there takes about 15-17 minutes at an easy pace. I think we may need more bike parking there.

The grand opening was great. Staff knocked it out of the park with this event. There was something for everyone. Despite some of the grumpiness on this page, I spoke with many, many people at the event who just gushed about how much they love the new facility.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

@Well done -- totally agree on the grand opening festivities. Looked like a thousand people to me. And I had more than my share of chocolate chip cookies.


4 people like this
Posted by dtakes
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

How nice to have the Mitchell Park library finally open! I'm a huge library user and love having one in nearby South Palo Alto.

I think the architecture leaves a lot to be desired. (How will it look to us, say, in 20 years? Still, it's not as ugly as the JCC painted cement box). But, never mind -- it's great to have a modern, new library, and I do love the whimsical owls.

Unfortunately, the parking lot is a grim joke. The flow doesn't work, it lacks a drive-by book drop off, and there are too few spaces. Instead of allocating all those spaces for electric cars and carpools (I've only seen one space in use all the times I've been there), why not allocate them for 3-5 min book drop off and pick-up? Enough with the social engineering, Palo Alto, time to GET REAL!

Also, who in the planning had so little foresight not to anticipate that kids would use the drive in front as a shortcut to their schools? At 3:00, the lot is hazardous for everyone -- bikers, walkers, and drivers alike.


3 people like this
Posted by Frequent borrower
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm

The only person I've seen use one of several parking spaces reserved for electric vehicles, plugged in and headed to the tennis courts.

Many who use the on-line reservation system are often there (while running other errands) for five minutes to pick up holds or return books. Converting a few spots to 5 minute parking seems reasonable. Biking is nice, but not practical for a weekday when you have kids and a job.


Like this comment
Posted by Well.
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Well, as a step from traditional libraries to an unknown future, acknowledging that kids and seniors need a place to be, it's a reasonable effort. A nice campus.

It does irk me that the library subsidizes the rich, who can afford new electric cars and don't need to be subsidized, from the taxes of all us.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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