Santa Cruz County’s library buildout is almost done; here’s a quick guide to where the branches stand

A preliminary rendering of the interior of the new downtown library.
(Via City of Santa Cruz)

Six years ago, Santa Cruz County voters invested in a total upgrade of the public library system. Now, with the downtown library expected to break ground in 2024, with a hopeful 2026 completion, the new buildings — and programs and services — are almost all done. Take a quick tour.

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In 2016, Santa Cruz County voters approved Measure S — a $67 million bond measure to rebuild or remodel 10 county libraries — by a 70% majority. Voters were told to expect completion of the work by the end of 2025. Now, as work winds to a close, that deadline has largely been met.

The Boulder Creek, Capitola, Felton and La Selva Beach branches all reopened by spring 2021, and the Scotts Valley and Live Oak branches reopened in August and October 2022, respectively. The Aptos branch is currently under construction and is on track for a fall 2023 reopening. Meanwhile, the Live Oak annex project — a multiuse space for programming, study rooms and recreation within the Simpkins Family Swim Center complex off of 17th Avenue — is expected to open around the same time.

That means only the downtown branch, the central point of focus around the November 2022 general election’s Measure O, has yet to break ground. But that’s expected to change soon.

The city council gave its final approval in March to the mixed-used project that will also include affordable housing and a parking garage, and no regulatory or legal actions have slowed it down. Yolande Wilburn, library director for Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL), said that’s a major step toward finally breaking ground.

“We can say that this project is now shovel-ready, so give us the money,” she said. Wilburn added that Santa Cruz Public Libraries will request an additional $10 million through the California State Library’s Building Forward, a grant that supports local library maintenance, capital projects, technology upgrades and the purchase of devices. Wilburn said SCPL will submit the grant proposal by May 18.

The Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries — a local nonprofit that has supported Santa Cruz Public Libraries through fundraising, volunteer services, advocacy and more — is a key player in all the library builds, too, said Wilburn, particularly with regard to construction components and collections. She said the group raised around $500,000 for the Aptos library’s interior design, higher-end furniture and local history curations. Next, the group is aiming to raise $2 million for additional features in the downtown library.

“We wouldn’t be able to do or have these things without them,” said Wilburn. “Friends does a phenomenal job of raising money for us and supporting the libraries in a variety of ways.”

The San Luis Obispo-based architecture group Ten Over Studio is in charge of the affordable housing component of the downtown project — 124 income-restricted units with a three-story parking garage. The group is currently working on submitting its grants, said Wilburn.

Further, Wilburn said she expects the City of Santa Cruz to go out for the final $27 million of the Measure S bond, which was reserved for the downtown library project. She expects that to be approved at the Library Joint Power Authority board meeting in August.

Wilburn expects groundbreaking to happen in 2024, with completion hopeful for the end of 2026.

To see the status of the branch closest to you, scroll through the list below.

Fully reopened

Boulder Creek
Address: 13390 West Park Ave., Boulder Creek
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Status: Reopened May 2022
New amenities: New HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), plumbing, entry, electrical and lighting; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant upgrades; revamped children’s area
Footprint: 4,500 square feet

At $13.5 million, the library is the largest capital project the city of Capitola has undertaken.
The Capitola branch library opened in June 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Capitola
Address: 2005 Wharf Rd., Capitola
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Status: Reopened June 2021
New amenities: Total renovation that includes larger meeting rooms, expanded children’s area, study rooms and solar panels
Footprint: 11,700 square feet

Felton
Address: 6121 Gushee St., Felton
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Status: Reopened February 2020
New amenities: New facility with free computers and wifi, new teen and children’s areas, new community room and a discovery park
Footprint: 9,000 square feet

The Garfield Park branch.
(Max Chun / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Garfield Park
Address: 705 Woodrow Ave., Santa Cruz
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Status: Reopened June 2022
New amenities: Renovated building with a revamped seating area and children’s area and updated landscaping
Footprint: 2,300 square feet

La Selva Beach
Address: 316 Estrella Ave., La Selva Beach
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Status: Reopened March 2021
New amenities: Renovation of existing facility with new lighting, electrical and interior finishes, updated seating areas and an expanded outdoor deck
Footprint: 2,230 square feet

Live Oak
Address: 2380 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Status: Reopened October 2022
New amenities: Renovation of existing facility with a new learning space for the children’s area, new ceilings and walls, including a wall between the children’s collection and the reading lounge and homework room
Footprint: 13,500 square feet

The Scotts Valley branch.
(Max Chun / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Scotts Valley
Address: 251 Kings Village Rd., Scotts Valley
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Status: Reopened August 2022
New amenities: Renovated facility with a new roof, a new HVAC system and a revamped parking lot
Footprint: 13,150 square feet

Under construction, reopening soon


Aptos
Address: 7695 Soquel Dr., Aptos
Status: Reopening fall 2023
New amenities: New facility with community, meeting and study rooms, a new garden area, a local history section curated by Aptos historians John and Karen Hibble and updated energy systems
Footprint: 12,000 square feet

Branciforte
Address: 230 Gault St., Santa Cruz
Status: Reopening May 13
New amenities: Renovation of existing facility including updated reading areas, electrical and telecommunication upgrades, a new children’s area and updated landscaping.
Footprint: 6,800 square feet

A rendering of the Live Oak library branch annex.
(Via County of Santa Cruz)

Live Oak Annex
Address: 979 17th Ave., Santa Cruz
Status: Reopening August or September 2023
New amenities: An addition to the Simpkins Family Swim Center with study rooms, meeting rooms and a lounge area
Footprint: 2,500 square feet

Down the road


Downtown Santa Cruz
Current address: 224 Church St., Santa Cruz
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Status: New facility on Cedar Street expected to break ground in 2024; completion hopeful by the end of 2026
New amenities: A new 35,000-square-foot library facility with 124 affordable housing units, a three-story parking garage, a new child care facility and a new roof deck
Footprint: 40,000 square feet

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