Good story on three new Bay Area public libraries

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a good story–better than half of the front page of the Bay Area section, with color photos, with an inside breakover–about the new public libraries in San Mateo, Belmont, and Hercules.

The link title for the story from the home page at SFGate (where the link takes you) is “These cities bounding for glory” and the story itself begins:

No government building has the presence of a good library.

It’s not a city hall where you do business or a jail where you do time. Libraries exist to unfurl dreams, offering access to knowledge and entertainment and everything in between. They symbolize the ideal that all citizens have a right to be informed.

The writer, John King, is the Chronicle‘s urban design writer; he knows his stuff, and always looks at buildings contextually. His only real complaint about any of the three buildings regards the largest, San Mateo’s new $60 million, 90,000-square-foot building, with its logical flow of several two-story spaces:

The one flaw that results from the emphasis on an upward march and specialized nooks: The regular collection’s shelves and stacks almost seem an afterthought, off to the side rather than the reason for being.

I haven’t been to any of the three, so I can’t comment. It’s interesting that he finds the lowest-budget of the three libraries (Belmont, at $8.2 million) the most satisfying.

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