Reading room, 2nd Floor
2090 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Open Mon 12-8; Tues 10-8; Wed, Thurs, Fri & Sat 10-6
Located on the third floor of the Library. Call 510-981-6195.
Map of the Central Library
To reserve a meeting room at the Central Library, call 510-981-6119 and leave a message. More information...
Public Service Departments
- Art, Music and Recreation
- Berkeley History Room
- Borrowing Services
- Children's Library
- Reference Services
- Teen Services
Berkeley taxpayers financed an extensive renovation and earthquake retrofitting project which was completed in April 2002.
The Art Moderne-style Berkeley (California) Public Library was designed by local architect James Plachek and completed in 1931, and has long been considered one of the downtown area’s major architectural treasures. The building’s unusual murals, decoration, and large industrial windows led to its placement on the National Register of Historic Landmarks in 1982. The dilemma, as with so many historic facilities – and especially libraries – was how to make it viable for the 21st century without diminishing its historic charm.
Book stacks and a 1960s addition were removed. Historic spaces were returned to their original beauty, including the reading room, reference room, and children’s library. Original lanterns were replicated and intricate ceiling stenciling restored.
The new addition, which increases the library’s shelf capacity by 40 percent, houses enlarged reference areas, 95 electronic public access terminals, a 16-station electronic classroom, a public meeting room, and staff areas. The new design respects the original structure by using similar forms, materials, and proportions expressed in a contemporary manner. John King of the San Francisco Chronicle called the library ”a building brimming with creativity,” and said, “Even in this age that focuses on narrow interests and distant celebrities, some cities still invest in places that welcome all residents -- and encourage them to think.” Charles Burress, also of the Chronicle, wrote: “…the inside of Berkeley's beloved Art Deco library looks like the frog after the princess kissed it.
Modern Moderne: Berkeley Public Library Renovation and Expansion by Ripley/BOORA Associated Architects
August 1, 2002