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Community applauds opening of new, revamped temporary Roseland library

A new temporary home for Santa Rosa’s Roseland Regional Library was unveiled Monday, even as the search for a larger, permanent spot for this community hub continues.

About 70 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony held outside the 4,500-square-foot building at 470 Sebastopol Road, which will house the library for the duration of its six-year lease.

Liz Kettmann and her 4-year-old son, Max, were among the library’s first patrons on Monday. They picked out books on unicorns and fairy science.

Kettmann, who lives in northwest Santa Rosa, called the space “beautiful” and noted that she liked the abundance of books in Spanish that filled the shelves.

“I think it’s great that it’s so close to schools and I hope there’s easy access for families,” she added.

The opening marked the return of in-person access to the Roseland library since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced staff to close the library’s former location a block away.

A previously planned July opening date for the temporary location was pushed back due to delays with construction and city-mandated inspections, Sonoma County Library spokesman Ray Holley said.

For Santa Rosa Councilman Eddie Alvarez, whose election to the city’s new District 1 seat last November made him the first council member to represent the Roseland neighborhood, the event symbolized the start of a new future for the area.

“Roseland is a little bit different every day, and I hope you are taking notice,” he told the crowd gathered at Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We have voice. We have hope. We have representation.”

Library officials have lauded the new location as a significant upgrade from its former home at the Roseland Village Shopping Center, which it shared with the local Boys & Girls Club.

The shared use of the space meant the library’s hours were mostly limited to the mornings to accommodate the club, though the temporary space that opened Monday will have longer hours, and be open six days a week.

It also came outfitted with new furniture, a new and larger collection of books, as well as a dedicated community space that didn’t exist at the former library site, where staff dealt with mice and a leaky roof, Holley said.

New shelving carved out the library's different sections, which were identified by signs in both Spanish and English, and desks with computers, as well as general seating areas were sprinkled throughout the new location.

But even with its improvements, the 4,500-square-foot building’s lease will run out in six years.

The space also falls far short of the size officials envision for a permanent Roseland library, a space that will need the capacity to serve several generations, Holley said.

“We know Roseland is eager for a full-service public library,” Holley said. “There’s a tremendous opportunity for economic development in Roseland and the library is part of that economic development.”

So far, the city of Santa Rosa has earmarked $10 million to support the library project. Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, secured an additional $1 million through the state budget in July.

Among the locations eyed for the permanent library is its former site.

The county-owned property was OK’d for a 175-apartment mixed-use development project in 2019 now known as Tierra de Rosas, said Santa Rosa Assistant City Manager Jason Nutt.

But the city, which assumed responsibility for housing the Roseland library when it annexed the neighborhood in 2017, is waiting on negotiations between the county’s Community Development Commission, the Sonoma County Regional Library and the Boys & Girls Club over whether both a neighborhood library and a youth club can exist in the 20,000-square-foot community center being built in the development, Nutt said.

Sonoma County Library officials have previously said that a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot building would be needed to sufficiently accommodate the Roseland neighborhood, and the Boys & Girls Club is first in line to purchase the development project’s community building, he added.

With those factors in mind, the city has been on the lookout for other potential locations for a permanent Roseland Library, most of which are on undeveloped land, Nutt said.

“It’s something that we have not determined or solidified any specific acquisition at this point of time,” Nutt said. “We are simply in the research stage, trying to understand what’s out there.”

The effort to land a permanent home for the library received strong support from the city’s top leader on Monday.

“I’ve heard loud and clear this is not the permanent location, and we agree,” Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers said during Monday’s unveiling. “The city is going to be here every step of the way to make sure the investments that need to be made in this community are made so we can all grow together.”

Among the other elected officials who attended Monday’s ceremony were Assemblyman Levine, Sonoma County Board Chair Lynda Hopkins and Vice Mayor Natalie Rogers.

Ann Hammond, the Sonoma County Library’s director, and Deborah Doyle, the Sonoma County Library Commission chair, also attended Monday’s event.

Nohemi Palomino, a community organizer and the president for the Roseland Community Building Initiative, a group that would regularly hold meeting at the former Roseland library location, also attended the library’s opening.

She said she was excited about the inclusion of the community meeting room in the new space.

She also liked that there were more places to sit and that there were computers — not only for adults — but for children.

“We’re really happy because the kids are going to have a place to go,” Palomino said. “At home, they can read in their room or in the living room, but to go to the library and see there’s books, magazines — it’s a special place for them.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

Nashelly Chavez

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat 

Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.   

 

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