Children's Library reopens at Central. More information here.

construction showing the demolition of the stairwell and a hole in the ground for the elevator

Central Library Open Hours and Construction Update: September 2022

Authored on
August 31, 2022

Construction continues at the Central Library, but Library staff are pleased to announce that the main level of the Library will be open for holds pick up and browsing collections of all physical library materials, including children’s and teen books, fiction, nonfiction, Spanish, DVDs, and special collections. Beginning September 6, regular hours will be 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and 10 AM to 6 PM on Thursdays.

Seating, public Wi-Fi, printing, and computer access are still unavailable and the public cannot access the Children's Library on the lower level or the spaces on the upper level.

The expanded hours at Eastside Library will remain in effect, and Library on the Go van stops will also continue. 

Three simultaneous construction projects at Central Library are underway. Outside the Library, crews are focusing on laying the groundwork for a new Library Plaza that will serve as a gathering space for Library programs and community events. The new space will be accessible and environmentally friendly with permeable pavers and drought resistant landscaping. This project is made possible with support from the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation, which raised $5 million dollars in a capital campaign with donations from the community. The City of Santa Barbara also contributed $2,286,902 in capital funding to make this project possible. 

In addition to the Plaza, a new, ADA accessible elevator is being built in the center of the Library that will provide access to the Children’s Library and Upper Level. The Library’s current elevator is more than 50 years old. Over the last several years it has been out of order for extended periods of time, limiting access and increasing the workload of Library staff, who must transport books by hand up and down the stairs when the elevator is out of service. The new elevator will not only allow for better access for people with mobility challenges, wheelchair users, and strollers, but will also be a beautiful modern, glass structure. 

The final project underway is the lower level staff area renovation. Over the last several decades, upgrades have focused on improvements to the public spaces in the Library, but the staff area was in need of a renovation to reflect modern workflows and increased staff efficiencies. As part of this project, our network equipment is also being relocated and the internet cabling in the building is being upgraded. This work will allow the Library to fully realize the improvements to the wifi network Library staff implemented earlier in 2022, funded by a California State Library broadband grant. Because of the cabling upgrade and network equipment relocation, the Library’s self-check machines and automatic returns machine are both inoperable at this time, but Library staff are working diligently to facilitate the borrowing of materials. 

Construction projects often experience delays or unexpected challenges. We expect some additional closure dates for construction related power outages and water shut offs, but don’t have a final schedule of when those interruptions will occur. We will be diligent in communicating any updates on our website, in our email newsletter, and on social media. We appreciate your flexibility as we build a better community space for learning!

Can I still pick up holds at the Central Library? 

Yes! Pick up your holds as usual. The holds shelf has been relocated to an area near the windows. Until the network upgrades are complete, self-check machines are unavailable, but you will be able to check them out at a staffed service point.

I’m disappointed I can’t access a book that shows in the catalog as on shelf at Central Library. Why can’t you just retrieve it for me? 

Depending on the current construction work and staff availability, we can’t guarantee we will be able to immediately access an on-shelf item. Staff will use their discretion to determine if they are able to pull an on shelf item that is not part of our browsing collection for you during a visit, but if they are unable to retrieve it at that time, they will be happy to place it on hold for you.

Is use of the microfilm machine and collection available?

This area is closed to the public due to construction and the microfilm machine is unavailable. We are digitizing a portion of the microfilm collection in partnership with a research institution, so much of it is also unavailable. If you need assistance with accessing Local History or Microfilm collections, please reach out to us to make a Reserve a Librarian appointment and we will work to find a solution. 

What if I need to use a computer, internet, or print? 

We have laptops and hotspots available for checkout. Computers and printing will also be available at Eastside Library and Montecito Library. 

What are my options for study or work space? 

Visit the Eastside Library or Montecito Library for study and workspace. No seating or tables will be available in the Central Library. 

I’m an Adult Literacy tutor or learner. Can we still use the Adult Education Center?

Adult Literacy tutors and learners are able to meet in the Faulkner Side Galleries on a first come, first serve basis, but the Adult Education office will not be available. If you need materials or resources, staff can pull materials for you. 

I’m interested in making a SBPL Works! appointment and it is inconvenient for me to visit Eastside Library. What are my options? 

We are offering a limited number of SBPL Works! appointments for job search and career development related activities or for those who are using our Community Connections services based and are referred by staff conducting outreach at the Neighborhood Navigation Centers. Please call (805) 962-7653 or see staff to make an appointment.

I’m an OG Reader tutor or my child is an OG Reader student. Can we still meet at the Central Library?

OG Reader tutors and students can still meet in the Faulkner Side Galleries, but may find it more convenient to meet at Eastside Library, Montecito Library, or arrange to meet at a Library on the Go. Please discuss options with Library staff. We will work to find a solution for you. 

Will the Faulkner Gallery be open?

Galleries will be open for art viewing. The Faulkner Galleries may also be reserved for meetings and events.

Can I still get my reference or account questions answered in person?

The only in-person services available during this time are pickup and limited book browsing. If you have questions, please call (805) 962-7653, use the contact form on the Library’s website for an email reply, or visit Eastside Library or Montecito Library.

I need a new or replacement Library card. Can you help with that?

Yes, Central Library staff will be able to issue new or replacement Library cards. 

Will you be able to take payments for lost or damaged items or other outstanding account fees?

Payments may be made at Eastside Library or Montecito Library or in your online account in the Library catalog. Staff will not have access to a cash register or credit card processor during construction. Luckily, we recently forgave all outstanding charges on accounts for lost or damaged items when we migrated to a new catalog system so few people have charges on their account at this point in time.