When Palo Alto's Main Library reopens at the end of the year after being closed approximately 18 months for major renovations, not only will it have a new look, it will also have a new name. On April 7, Councilmembers voted to rename the library Rinconada Library.
The discussion to rename the 56-year-old library at 1213 Newell Road began in January 2012 when the Library Advisory Commission first recommended the name Rinconada to tie into neighboring Rinconada Park, while also reflecting the history of the Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito land grant that Palo Alto was founded on. The name Rinconada is Spanish for "elbow" or “inside corner.” The Park name came from a contest held by the Chamber of Commerce to rename the City's Waterworks Park in the mid-1920s.
With the library getting a makeover, many felt it was time for a name change. The Main Library is no longer the largest branch or the administrative center, those being the future Mitchell Park and Downtown branches respectively, so a name change was in order to better capture the feel of the library.
Since the Library Advisory Commission first brought up the name change, there have been many suggestions on what that name should be. Some wanted the library to be named after a notable Palo Altan, and several names were put forth for consideration, including Hewlett-Packard founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard, Palo Alto Medical Clinic founding physician Russell Lee, and well-known Palo Alto architect Birge Clark, who designed the Lucie Stern Community Center, along with numerous other buildings in the City and at Stanford University. Others wanted a name that would reflect the community, such as Newell, Embarcadero or Community Center, the neighborhood in which the library is located.
The Library Advisory Commission, with approval from the Palo Alto Historical Association Board, stood by its recommendation of Rinconada, and councilmembers who voted for the Rinconada name said it was the suggestion that seemed to have the most community support.
The Main Library has been closed since April 2013 for renovations and is targeted to reopen December 2014. The project will incorporate upgrades to the historic building’s structural, electrical and mechanical systems, while preserving the integrity of architect Edwards Durrell Stone’s iconic design. The renovation includes new additions to the existing building in order to accommodate a new program room for the library, group study rooms and new public restrooms.
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