BY BILL BRUNS
Special to CTN
The L.A. Times reported Monday that “the Los Angeles Public Library is expected to reopen May 3 with limited service at 38 locations,” thanks to a lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.”
Unfortunately, the Pacific Palisades Branch Library will not be reopening for many months because the City still must repair the damage caused by a roof fire last October — six months ago.
Thanks to fast action by firemen at nearby Station 69, the electrical fire was confined to an area just above the children’s section. However, as Circling the News reported at that time, “The rest of the library had water on the floor, but the computers, the front desk section and the adult section were unharmed, as was the front of the library where the DVD section is located, as well as staff offices and a storage room.”
At its quarterly Zoom meeting on April 13, the Friends of the Palisades Library board received an update from Emily Fate of LAPL Branch Services on the upcoming repairs to the main reading room structure.
The ceiling and roof will need to be repaired and the room rewired and repainted, she noted. Also, all the following will need to be replaced: light fixtures, carpet, and HVAC ductwork and ceiling vents.
The General Services Department Construction Services Division will do the work, but the project is not even yet ready to send out for bidding.
The estimated cost is $633,270, Fate reported, and “the LAPL has this money set aside, in anticipation of the transfer of funds from the Library to the General Services Department being approved by the Budget and Finance Committee of the City Council. This approval will need to take place before June 30, the end of the fiscal year.”
According to the minutes of this board meeting, “Members expressed dismay at the uncertain time frame for regaining access to this critical community asset. Nina Kidd asked whether, once in-person gatherings are permitted, we might open the community room (which was not affected by the fire) before the repairs to the damaged section of the library are complete. Problematically, if the door to the rest of the library is locked, there would be no access to the bathrooms.”
Joyce Cooper, also from LAPL Branch Services, “asked for patience,” according to the minutes.
The two Central Library representatives would not venture an estimated start date for construction and reopening, and Friends President Laura Schneider alerted them that “the board and the local press will continue to ask questions.”
Prior to the Friends meeting, CTN wrote to Peter Persic, a spokesperson for the L.A. Library’s public relations department, and asked for details about the Palisades Library repairs.
In late March he wrote, “The library is currently working with the city’s General Services Department’s Construction Forces Division (CFD) and the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Engineering (BOE) to complete the design, cost estimate and timeline for the repair of the Palisades Branch Library.
“The project includes replacing the roof and repairing structural damage, air conditioning ducts and carpets,” Persic said. Also, the older lighting, which caused the fire, will be completely replaced with a new energy-efficient system.
“For safety, the library will be closed until CFD completes repairs, which will be paid for by funding set aside by the library for the project.”
We asked Persic for a timeline for the library repair and the cost.
“We don’t know the answers to those questions yet, but I’ll let you know when we do.”