Launch of Berkeley Public Library’s New Commons Space and Laptop Lending Service

August 27, 2018

Contact: Elliot Warren
Acting Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library


Launch of Berkeley Public Library’s New Commons Space and Laptop Lending Service


Berkeley, August 28, 2018—Berkeley Public Library invites community members to explore and enjoy the Central Library’s newly updated first floor space named The Commons. The Commons is an exciting step towards improving the user experience of the Central Library. Library staff thank the Berkeley Public Library Foundation for their generous donations that made this revitalized space possible. The Foundation contributed $75,000 toward The Commons, which included a $15,000 grant from Bayer. To highlight and welcome patrons to The Commons, the Library is holding an all-ages celebration on Saturday, October 6, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm. The event will include a block-building challenge for children, a concert by local performers of the musical collective Hoot, face painting, and a scavenger hunt with prizes for individuals and families.

The Commons’ improvements include a wide array of comfortable seating and table options (reader seats, carrels, low tables, high chairs, and soft seating), increased electrical outlets to support device charging, and a 12-laptop lending machine for immediate, self-service access to state-of-the-art technology. The Commons was envisioned by a team of BPL staff as a welcoming and flexible area for reading, gathering in small groups, co-working, studying, and using devices. Berkeley architecture and design firm Noll & Tam developed the design and is on contract with the Library to perform additional, long-planned-for updates to the first and second floors of the Central Library.

Lead project architect Alyson Yarus describes the Central Library as “a beautiful historic building, with gorgeous library tables, but until recently, nowhere soft to sit.” The area where The Commons now exists had previously been relatively underused, serving mainly as a corridor between stairs, elevator, service desk, and book stacks. Yarus commented that, “We designed The Commons to be a refreshed lounge area that provides a variety of seating options for reading, browsing on a laptop, or small group conversations. The comfortable, reconfigurable furniture caters to modern library patrons’ use of technology and need for power. Updated carpet and new geometric acoustical panels add pops of color and control the sound to create zones of private study and social hangout. Noll & Tam loved designing this space, and we can’t wait to see how everyone is using it!”

Library Specialist I Rudy Tapia, a member of the staff team, says that “A lot of thought and hard work was put into making this happen and it makes me so happy to see our patrons enjoying the area. Now, every time I walk by The Commons, I see patrons using the space just how we intended it to be used. And a number of patrons have approached me to let me know they love the new comfortable furniture.”

Kathy Huff, Executive Director of the Berkeley Library Foundation says that she, “is delighted to support building improvements like The Commons.  Our donors are committed to funding capital projects that help keep our library creative, flexible, and ready to serve the diverse and changing needs of our community.”

For questions regarding The Commons and the laptop lending kiosk, please call 510-981-6195.

The Central Library is located at 2090 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, 94704, and is open: Monday, 12:00-8:00 pm; Tuesday, 10:00 am-8:00 pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm; Sunday, 1:00-5:00 pm.

This program is wheelchair accessible. For questions, to request a sign language interpreter or other accommodations for this event, please call (510) 981-6195 (voice) or (510) 548-1240 (TTY); at least five working days will help ensure availability. Please refrain from wearing scented products to public programs. Visit the library’s website: