Larkspur Library gets $1M in state funding

Larkspur Library gets $1M in state funding

The plan to build a new library in Larkspur has received a $1 million injection from the state.

The library was among a handful of North Bay projects that were allocated a portion of the $264 billion state budget, Assemblyman Marc Levine announced.

“Libraries are one of the most essential functions in our communities,” said Levine, a Democrat who lives in Greenbrae. “They serve both as a learning and job resources center, as well as living rooms for so many people in our communities.”

“Once created, they are institutions that last for generations,” he said. “We have aging and antiquated physical libraries and we know our communities have so many more needs than our libraries can fulfill.”

Library Community Services Director Franklin Escobedo said the funding was more than welcome, whenever it arrives.

“I’m excited we got it,” Escobedo said. “The Larkspur community has been hoping to get a new library built for a long time.”

The project has been planned for more than five years. It recently garnered the support of the Commons Foundation, a nonprofit that pledged to raise $5 million over three years to fund the project.

The $1 million in state funding provided will help the project move forward, said Dan Schwarz, city manager.

“We are certainly very excited about this money,” Schwarz said. “This money was offered for our effort to build a new facility for the Larkspur Library on land that the city owns at the corner of Doherty Drive and Rose Lane.”

New funding aside, Schwarz said the project is still in preliminary phases, and there are no detailed designs. The project is slated to be built on a 2.43-acre lot owned by the city.

“I anticipate that some of the money will be used to build the necessary infrastructure that will facilitate the project, such as parking and utility connections,” he said. “This grant relieves the Commons Foundation from having to raise money for support infrastructure so that its members can concentrate on their exciting vision for the building itself.”

Joe Jennings, Commons Foundation president, said the library staff and city employees who’ve managed to keep services going through the pandemic deserve a larger facility with better parking, and access for people with disabilities.

The foundation has raised $1.4 million in cash and pledges so far to build a 5,000-square-foot building with a large room, restrooms, IT and utility closets, storage and parking.

In an email sent to the community on Thursday, Jennings encouraged people to press the City Council to submit a grant application for more funding. He said each library can apply for a maximum of $10 million.

“This is the first significant public money we might potentially get since the last decade. It’s been six or seven years since funds like these have been available for anything like a library,” he said. “It could be one of those once-in-a-decade opportunities to significantly increase resources available to residents in Larkspur and the surrounding community to build a modern library.”

The Larkspur Library dates back to 1913, when it was just a room inside City Hall run by volunteers. In 1923, the city assumed its operations and formed the library board, according to the city website.

The library went through various space upgrades throughout the early 20th century, and by 1983 its was renovated into the 3,500-square-foot space it occupies today at 400 Magnolia Ave.

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