Hundreds of students, parents, educators and community members were on hand for the dedication of the library and to explore the many new amenities and resources students will have access to — including coffee house-style seating, thousands of new books, and state-of-the-art computer labs with more than 100 new Apple computers.
The $7.3 million library, financed by Measure O funds, houses two collections and workspaces within 13,500 square feet, located between the middle school and high school campuses and directly adjacent to the cafeteria.
The middle school library occupies the upper level of the building and features vaulted ceilings and large windows. It is reached by a foot bridge from the middle school campus and via stairs and an elevator from the cafeteria.
The high school library is on the ground floor and has an outdoor seating area.
As guests toured the building, the common reaction of student, parent and educator alike was one of awe.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Jeff Calden, San Lorenzo Valley Middle School principal, who cut the ribbon to the middle school library. “Everyone here is still pinching themselves.”
“It’s incredible,” said sophomore Molly Jean Judd. “I’m spending the rest of my time in high school here.”
“I think it’s really cool that we’ve got more than just a classroom,” said Mallory Mullins, a junior.
“It’s awesome — so many new books,” said eighth-grader Madeline Peterson. “It’s like more than a library.”
“I’m in awe,” said eighth-grader Alan Schuh. “It’s huge.”
“It’s amazing — much bigger than the old library,” said eighth-grader Cooper Smith.
“It was worth spending all that time in the cold holding up that Measure O sign,” said Jean Van Ausdall, whose two children attend the high school and the middle school.
Even junior Ian Sugar, who has been inside the library many times in recent weeks documenting the final stages of construction for the high school newspaper, said he is amazed by the final result.
“I’m still mind-blown,” he said. “I didn’t even know the school could have such nice things as this.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the first day middle school students were allowed into their library during breaks, Calden said, the boys and girls flocked to the building.
“The bell rang and they were running to the library,” he said.
Calden applauded the San Lorenzo Valley community for ensuring that students have the best facilities available, citing not only the library but also the recently completed reconstruction of both the high school and middle school campuses, as well as the addition of an swimming pool and all-weather track and field.
“How many other middle schools have that?” he said. “I can’t picture a middle school anywhere else that has state-of-the-art facilities like ours.”
Led by project manager Erik Slaughter, crews from Barry Swensen Builders began construction on the libraries in June 2010 as part of Measure O, an $18.9 million bond measure approved by San Lorenzo Valley voters in 2008.
“This is the end of a long haul,” Superintendent Julie Haff said. “We have a community that stands behind us every step of the way.”
The campaign for the bond measure was spurred into action after a September 2006 arson fire destroyed the interior of the former library, along with everything inside — including 17,000 books, computers and yearbooks.
The burned building has since been rebuilt as a multipurpose room. Until the new library’s opening, the high school library had been housed in portable buildings.
The middle school library moved from a small room comparable in size to a regular classroom. With the library collection settled into more luxurious accommodations, that room will be used for parent-teacher conferences, staff meetings and storage of the class sets of novels used in language arts classes, which had previously been stored in the gym, Calden said.
San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District Trustee George Wylie, who was one of the leaders of the campaign for Measure O, lauded the project for being completed “ahead of schedule and under budget.”
Wylie said that while the fire that consumed the former high school library was a staggering loss, the construction of its modern replacement has somewhat softened the blow.
“We got lemons, this is our lemonade,” he said.
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