EC New Library Foundation Is Watching and Learning from Brentwood’s Proactive Efforts

New Library to Anchor Downtown

The new library Brentwood is building has the potential to change the world, for the better.

It can energize the downtown community, sparking an increase in activity at a time when the city’s Downtown Specific Plan and Economic Subcommittee is looking for ways to bring more people to the city’s core.

“We have to be proactive,” said City Councilman Steve Barr in a recent Brentwood Press article. “We can’t just wait for someone to discover downtown.”

New libraries have the ability to dramatically increase foot traffic in their surrounding areas, according to statistics, sometimes as much as 160%. This added pedestrian activity could be a boon to the 19 eating and drinking businesses located downtown, as well as the 20 or so retail establishments.

For many years Walnut Creek had a small, outgrown downtown library.  In 2008 the community tore it down and built a new, modern facility that reflects the current ideals of what a modern library ought to be.  Foot traffic, as reflected in Door Count statistics, went from 196,818 in FY 2006-2007 to about 500,000 in FY 2010-2011.

With a current population of about 87,000, Walnut Creek is larger and has a different demographic and downtown mix than the 70,000-plus population of Brentwood and Discovery Bay. But the planned Brentwood Library will be adding the same type of facilities, including a Community Meeting Room that will hold 100 people along with Conference Rooms and Study Areas, as were added in Walnut Creek. None of these facilities exist today in Brentwood’s library.

“Regarding downtown foot traffic, if you build it, they will come. The downtown library is now part of the landscape and daily life for the many people who work and visit downtown. The coffee shop serves people in the area, not just the library, and it is a central meeting place for many,” said Kristin Anderson, Executive Director of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation, in an email recently.

“I feel that a vibrant downtown includes a library. People need a place to gather, meet, relax, and to get work done. Starbucks can only do so much and you don’t have to buy coffee to sit and use the Wifi at a library,” she said.

In a Walnut Creek Library Foundation document from 2009 is this nugget:

“Experience and statistics show that older libraries like Walnut Creek’s have “pent up” demand for service. Every new library sees a dramatic increase in both the number of visitors and in the circulation of materials in the first year, both of which continue to be strong thereafter at the new, higher level.

“The experience of San Pablo’s new library demonstrates this growth trend: Since opening five years ago, the library has charted a 66% increase in circulation, a 122% increase in visitors, and a 315% increase in program attendance. Because Walnut Creek’s downtown library has been out of space for more than 20 years, the County Library projects that use will double when the new library opens.

“Beyond raw numbers, we expect the new Walnut Creek Library to serve as the cultural and intellectual center point for all of our diverse communities as well as a cornerstone of Walnut Creek’s vision of itself, as something considerably more than a retail hub.”

Pedestrian traffic numbers, as reflected in on-going Door Count statistics, reflect this new level of activity through each of the years since the Walnut Creek Library opened.

Brentwood’s Door Count total is 163,011 for FY 2013-2014. With new facilities and programs it is likely that this number will increase by a dramatic amount.

To learn more about the El Cerrito Library Foundations’s efforts to bring our community a new larger Library, please click here to visit their site

El Cerrito New Library Foundation

and/or facebook page.

Friends of the Library will miss Mary Ann Addison

Dear EC Library Friends,

We must sadly report that we recently lost long time Board member, Mary Ann Addison, to complications from illness. A well attended memorial service was held last Saturday, and we publish her obituary below.  Her avid support of the Library and her sunny smile will be sorely missed. Mary Ann

Mary Ann Addison was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the second of three children of eminent logician Alonzo Church and Mary Julia Kuczinski. A 1951 honor-roll graduate of Princeton High School, she went on to the University of Georgia, majoring in biology, joining sorority Alpha Chi Omega, and graduating in June 1955. She married John West Addison Jr. on August 27, 1955. After a year in Princeton and abroad, they settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she received a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Michigan. In 1962, when John was appointed to the faculty of Mathematics at the University of California, they moved to Berkeley and after a year settled in El Cerrito.  Mary Ann and John had four sons: West, Thomas, Alonzo, and Samuel. She loved being a mother and her family was the center of her universe. In the 1970s she served in various leadership roles in the Del Mar Elementary School PTA and Northbrae Community Church Sunday school. Around 1977, she revived Cub Scout Pack 104 and was very active in Scouting at the pack, troop, district, and council levels, receiving the District Award of Merit in 1982, and making a lasting impact on countless boys and their families. When her sons were grown, she worked as a substitute elementary school teacher in the Richmond Unified schools and became active in the Friends of the El Cerrito Library.

A woman of widespread talents and interests, thrifty Mary Ann was early on recycling clothes and toys, guiding her sons, nieces, and nephews in vegetable gardening, canning, sewing, knitting, furniture restoration, and more. She was an accomplished calligrapher and producer of brass rubbings, and a wonderful cook and hostess. Her beautifully decorated cakes graced many a tea, reception, or fundraiser for the University, Scouts, or Church.Mary Ann loved to travel and made lifelong friends across the globe. Particularly memorable were an exciting five months in 1956 as a newlywed in Poland during the height of the Cold War and her family’s sabbatical years in Oxford, Jerusalem, and Münster, exploring the culture and history of Britain, the Middle East, and Germany. Her remarkably kind nature endeared her to friends of many different backgrounds.

Mary Ann died at home after gracefully coping with Parkinson’s disease with Lewy body dementia for many years. An exceptionally devoted wife, caring mother, and loving sister, she is greatly missed. She is survived by John, her husband of 58 years; her four sons John West Addison III, Thomas Cary Addison, Alonzo Church Addison, and Samuel Robbins Addison; her two daughters-in-law Selene Fabiano and Elaine Kennelly Addison; her four grandchildren Claudia, Eleanor, Parker, and Henry; and her sister Mildred Dandridge.

Donations may be sent in her memory to: Mt. Diablo Silverado Council, Boy Scouts of America, attn: Mary Ann Addison Memorial Fund, 800 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523; or Friends of the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530; or Northbrae Community Church