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1213 Newell Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94303

Hours and Information:
Main Library Webpage

Aug 2011
Construction Update
Sept 2011 Construction Update
Nov/Dec 2011 Construction Update
Jan/Feb 2012 Construction Update
Mar/Apr 2012 Construction Update 
May/Jun 2012 Construction Update
Jul/Aug 2012 Construction Update
Sep/Oct 2012 Construction Update
Nov/Dec 2012 Construction Update
Jan/Feb 2013 Construction Update
Mar/Apr 2013 Construction Update
May/Jun 2013 Construction Update
July 2013 Construction Update
August 2013 Construction Update
Sept 2013 Construction Update
Oct 2013 Construction Update
Nov 2013 Construction Update
Dec 2013 Construction Update
Jan 2014 Construction Update
Feb 2014 Construction Update 
Mar 2014 Construction Update
April 2014 Construction Update
May 2014 Construction Update
June 2014 Construction Update
July 2014 Construction Update
August 2014 Construction Update
September 2014 Construction Update

Rendering Exterior

Renovated Main Library is now OPEN!

Main Library (renamed Rinconada Library) was closed for construction for approximately eighteen months and during the remodel Downtown Library and College Terrace Library had extended hours to help meet customers’ needs.   Hours for all locations changed January 5, 2015 - find hours for all locations here. 

The project incorporated 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. The project targets Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) certification. 

The Main Library, designed by Edward Durell Stone, opened in 1958 following a voter approved bond measure that also funded the construction of the Mitchell Park Library. The library is located on Newell Road across from the Palo Alto Art Center. The building is 26,313 square feet, including a 5,000 square foot basement. This library has the largest collection in the system, including the principal reference collection and the archives of the Palo Alto Historical Association.  It serves primarily adults and teens and has a very small children’s collection. The Library is open 62 hours per week.

While the building has received small remodels over the years, it needs a total renovation to bring it up to current codes and standards and to provide needed spaces to accommodate needs of its users. The building lacks any community or group study spaces, resulting in limited programming and the inability for groups to work together on projects without disturbing other users. The existing lighting system provides insufficient illumination for a library – a recent building analysis determined that the luminous ceiling has significantly degraded and transmits only 8%-11% of the light through the panels. Poor lighting is a source of many complaints. The building is heated by hot water from a boiler in the Cultural Center, and there is no air-conditioning.  Find out more about the Main Library building in the Historic Structure Report.

Features of the proposed design for the renovation:

  • Total renovation to bring building up to current codes and standards.
  • New wing off of south entrance with meeting room seating 100 and additional restrooms
  • 4 small group study rooms off the ends of the reading room
  • Dedicated room for teens
  • Upgraded lighting
  • Upgraded electrical systems to support use of technology
  • New mechanical systems, including radiant heating and cooling system in the floor
  • New carpet and paint

Tree Removals Required:

A total of 26 trees will be removed during the Main Library Expansion and Renovation Project.  Additionally, 4 existing trees were relocated within the site.  During the project 31 new trees will be planted along with new landscape and site improvements.  Currently, there are approximately 175 trees within the proposed project area around the Main Library.  The entire property that includes the Art Center and community garden area has over 400 trees.

Some trees on the site were removed due to poor health or due to conflicts with other neighboring trees that will remain.  Significant removals for safety reasons include 2 stone pine trees (#52 and #54) near the community garden area.  These 2 trees and 3 others (#149, #162, and #164) were recommended for removal ASAP regardless of a project.  Tree #172 was removed because it conflicted with the proposed geothermal wells and piping.

Other trees were removed to accommodate the project site improvements.  The Tree Preservation and Removal Plan shows the trees to remain and the trees that will be affected by the project.  The Tree Mitigation Chart lists the reasons for removal of each tree. 

Prior to removal, a notice was posted on the tree for at least 14 days.  The tree removals were also discussed at the following public meetings and hearings:

If you have questions or concerns about the tree removals at Main Library, please contact Young Tran at 650-329-2160.

Main Library Design Renderings (updated 4/13)