New Truckee library starts to look more like a reality
Special to the Sun
The last piece of the puzzle before breaking ground for the construction of a new library at Truckee Donner Regional Park is community input.
According to Kathleen Eagan, Truckee’s first mayor, discussions over the last 12 years between the Friends of the Truckee Library, the town of Truckee and Nevada County have finally come to a head with the help of a design and architecture firm — LDA Partners.
Now they want the community to chime in.
According to the Friends of the Truckee Library website, a survey — found online at http://www.research.net/r/LibraryUP — is meant to help LDA Partners collaborate with the community rather than creating the structure via a one-way process. The survey includes questions that help orient the library interface toward more personal or collective work and more professional or academic. The survey also asks participants to consider including a cafe and musical performance room.
No construction timeline exists yet for the new library.
Truckee’s existing 5,000-square-foot library was built in 1975. Then, the town was unincorporated, and the population on the Nevada County side totaled just 2,000 people.
Now, Truckee’s population on the Nevada County side is closer to 16,000, and “we still have this little library,” Eagan said. “In large measure, we are vastly underserved.”
Eagan said driving an hour mid-Tahoe winter to access a full-service library is not ideal nor realistic.
“Western county has the mothership of libraries, but that doesn’t help the eastern county,” Eagan said. “This community believes that libraries are an essential institution of democracy. They reflect the wants, needs, the intellect and the character of the community.”
Eagan said conversations about a new library began in 2008, spearheaded by Friends of the Truckee Library. The dream started to look more like reality when Measure A, a sales tax measure, was passed in 2016.
“It passed with 76 to 80 percent positive vote from Truckee residents,” Eagan said.
After the measure passed, Eagan said Friends of the Truckee Library took cues from other special districts, including the airport district and the Truckee Sanitary District, to collaborate with local leaders.
Once those community leaders identified Truckee Donner Regional Park as a fitting location, the town of Truckee agreed to trade the land for the use of the library’s current location — next to a jail and courthouse, Eagan said.
“The town jumped up said they’re willing to exchange the new corporation yard for the old corporation yard,” Eagan said.
‘WHERE COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER’
Eagan said in order to meet the needs of the growing community, the new library will take up a minimum of 20,000 square feet.
Louise Zabriskie, president of Friends of the Truckee Library, said one dimension of the library currently under consideration is historical displays relevant to the rich history of the region.
“We have a very active historical society,” Zabriskie said. “They would love to have the space in our library.”
Zabriskie said the focus of various displays could range from railroad history, the history of Chinese emigration and mining.
“People would love to have the capacity in the library to house these kinds of historical pieces,” Zabriskie said.
Zabriskie said libraries may be great conduits to a region’s history, but have a very real role in responding to a community’s needs. She cited the library in Tehama County, where many evacuees sought not only refuge but necessary paperwork after the Paradise fire.
“When they came to the library they didn’t care about a 3D printer,” Zabriskie said. “They wanted to record and copy all their important documents — whatever they happened to be able to save.”
Zabriskie said the Tehama library got a grant to fund the necessary digital equipment to meet the need, and copied 30,000 hours of VHS tapes, “all of it for free.”
Eric Wohle of LDA Partners said connecting the library’s design with its patrons’ interests will help the community flourish overall by providing a physical space to generate, debate and execute ideas.
Wohle said a modern library may have books, but the physical collection of bound pages is there to be engaged with.
“Naysayers come out of woodworks, ‘books aren’t used anymore,’” Wohle said. “A modern library is a place where community comes together and connects with each other on a multitude of levels.”
Wohle said this library will really serve the entire Tahoe basin.
“We need to come together more than ever,” Wohle said. “We really need a place where the community congregates and calls their own — a community connectivity center.”
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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