Arlington Branch Library reopens

Arlington Branch Library reopens

After nearly 2 years of construction and renovation, Riverside’s Arlington Branch Library reopened to the public this past week following an 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the 99-year-old building. The new wing nearly triples the size of the current library to 13,000 sq. ft.

2008 - Arlington Branch Library

2008 – Arlington Branch Library

The new addition mimics the original building’s Greek Revival styling, which was designed by local architect Seeley L. Pillar. When it first opened on June 1, 1909, the new library was the city’s first “branch” library and was built to serve the southern and western portions of Riverside.

Though not technically a Carnegie library, the city built the Arlington Branch after obtaining $7,500 from the Carnegie Foundation for expanding the downtown library. The grant used for the downtown expansion freed up $7,500 for the new Arlington library, which also included a fire station attached to the back of the building.

A year-long, $8,000 renovation began in 1927 to upgrade the library after it was declared structurally unsafe, causing a temporary closure. Subsequent renovations and expansions over the years included an extensive rehab during the late 1950s; the re-use of the space housing the former fire station in 1968 (which had relocated to a separate building about a quarter-mile east on Magnolia Avenue in 1938); and another renovation in 1996.

2008 - Arlington Branch Library

2008 – Arlington Branch Library

Today, the new wing houses the majority of the library’s collection of 45,000 titles. An expanded children’s section, lower shelving heights and several seating areas help give the new addition a bookstore atmosphere, while natural lighting provided by expansive windows and skylights gives the library an open-air feel. Thirty-four computers and 2 self-checkout stations round out the expanded facility.

The former main room in the original building is now a 110-seat community room. Historic photographs of Riverside’s past act as translucent shades on the windows that surround the room.

2008 - Shades of the past

2008 – Shades of the past

In a nod to the building’s past, the library’s new entrance uses the old stable building from the days when the structure housed the fire station. Located in this new foyer are two glass cases housing both fire- and citrus-related memorabilia from the city’s past.

The reopening of the Arlington Branch is the latest improvement made to the city’s 7-branch library system, which is in the midst of its largest building and renovation campaign in its history. Other projects include the soon-to-open Orange Terrace Branch Library, the relocation of the Marcy Branch Library and the expansion/renovation of downtown’s Central Library. It also comes on the heels of the recent expansions/renovations at the Eastside Library/Cybrary and the La Sierra Branch Library as well as the opening of the Casa Blanca Library & Family Learning Center a few years back.

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Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, “Colony for California” (Tom Patterson), “Arlington” (Georgia Gordon Sercl)

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