PICO BLVD — Construction of a much-needed library in the Pico Neighborhood is on schedule, city officials said.
The $11.1 million Pico Branch Library will be completed in January, boasting completely new books and new media for the public to borrow and read.
The way for the new library was paved when the community from the Pico Neighborhood expressed a need for a library in its midst.
The library has a two-building design with a 7,872-square-foot main facility. There is a separate annex, or community room, encompassing 818 square feet, that will be used for story time and other programs.
The library has been a long time coming. Martin Pastucha, director of public works, said the City Council had been looking to provide one for the neighborhood for a long time.
The money for the library comes from the General Fund, which supports basic city services and amenities, Pastucha added.
When construction is completed in January, library staff will move in to add books and install the systems and computers.
As the library is being built, the library’s staff will start moving in furniture, books and setting up the public service area, Susan Annett, acting city librarian, said.
The library is also looking to hire positions ranging from a branch manager, library assistants, a librarian and pages, or people who shelve the materials and assist with checking out books.
There will be 25,000 items in the library including 19,278 books, of which 10,390 books are for adults, and 8,888 books are for children and teens. There are also 4,436 media items including music CDs, audiobooks and language learning CDs.
“It’s going to be a brand new collection,” Annett, who is also principal librarian for public and branch services, said. “It’s the first new neighborhood branch in 54 years.”
The new library is going to try something new. The Pico Branch Library will be hiring student workers or youth from the local neighborhood, Annett said, something that isn’t being done at other branch libraries. The part-time student workers will come from the community, which voiced a desire for employment opportunities for its youth, Annett said.
“If students workers work out really well for employment opportunities at the Pico Branch, we’ll use them for employment opportunities for other branches as well,” Annett said.
The library will also work closely with the nearby Virginia Avenue Teen Center, and provide afterschool programs for tweens, Annett said. Other library programs will include early literacy programs, pre-school story hours and more.
The Pico Neighborhood was the only one in Santa Monica that didn’t have an accessible public library, Oscar de la Torre, newly-elected co-chair of the Pico Neighborhood Association and school board member.
de la Torre said the library will have a “positive impact” on the population in the area.
“We hope the library will serve as a cultural space to tell the story of the diversity for the Pico Neighborhood that is quickly being lost,” de la Torre said. “The library is positioned to have a major impact on expanding academic and educational opportunities for those youth who need it the most … living in the 90404.”