Sonoma Valley's renovated library reopened ahead of schedule Tuesday and judging by the reviews the changes are a hit.
“It's wonderful. It's so exciting,” said Sonoma resident Kathy Jewell.
The West Napa Road library closed July 16 for renovations that were expected to take a year.
The work included adding a new room dedicated for use by teens, a periodicals alcove, an enlarged book-drop area and remodeled public restrooms, as well as a new heating and air conditioning system and landscaping.
Stephan Buffy, the Sonoma branch manager, said Tuesday that a combination of factors, including a mild winter that was a boon for construction crews, allowed the library to reopen nearly four months ahead of schedule.
Buffy described it as a “soft opening,” however, as work is still being completed. On Tuesday, workers were busy installing the library's new outdoor sign, while inside, signs warning of “wet paint” greeted visitors.
Those were minor considerations. Several patrons gushed over the renovations, saying the 30-year-old library now feels modern and bright.
“It's nice to see communities that continue to invest in libraries because they are a gathering place where everyone has access to resources and information,” said Amy Allis, a part-time Sonoma resident.
Allis was seated at one of 10 tables that were custom-built for the library. Her laptop was plugged into an outlet that was in the center of the table.
Other modern touches include three computerized self-checkout stands.
Sonoma resident Michael Thomas said the new library feels more open and “airy,” thanks to the addition of new skylights and lighting.
Thomas also liked the new periodical room, which is separated from the library's main room by a glass partition.
Buffy said the library used to be so dark that some people, particularly seniors, had difficulty reading books.