New Riverside Main Library adds finishing touches

March 19, 2021

The new main library in Riverside is almost done, with the furniture and books already having been moved in, however due to COVID-19 there is no current date for when the new library will be opened. This library will be part of Riverside’s eight libraries and will replace the previous main library downtown. 

The former library will become a museum that displays Chicano art from the collection of Cheech Marin and is expected to open later this year. Construction on the museum will most likely begin soon as the new library has just finished construction. It is going to be called the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry. It is a project alongside the City of Riverside, the Riverside Art Museum and Cheech Marin. At the moment Cheech Marin has given 11 pieces of art to the Riverside Art Museum and before the Museum opens he will give around 500 other pieces from his collection. 

The new library is placed on Fairmont Boulevard and is 42,000 square feet, there are four floors and grand windows overlooking the city. The process of building a new main library has been talked about for many years. The formal process of looking into how Riverside could achieve the project of building a new main library was first looked at back in 2006. The New Main Library was part of the Riverside Renaissance Plan which is a plan to improve public works and public spaces in the city. Several different plans were created and shelved between the years 2006-2016. In February of 2016 the City Council decided on the current site where the New Main Library is located, which is 3911 University Avenue near the Fox Theater. The next year in 2017, the architectural firm Johnson Favaro was chosen to design the new Main Library. 

In March 2019 the City broke ground and now, two years later I am answering these questions from an office in the new library.” said Library Director Erin Christmas.

The new library is 42,000 square feet and there are four floors overlooking the city. The library has a grand total of four floors, the 3rd and 4th are the ones that are for the public to enjoy. To access the top two floors there is an elevator that gets you to a terrace where you can either enjoy the outdoor seating or go inside the library. The 1st floor will have a bookstore with many book related things and all proceeds going to the library. And the 2nd floor is going to be home to historical documents and therefore not open to the public. Inside the library there are places for everyone to enjoy kids have a bright storytime section and learning area for younger children. And throughout the entire library there is comfortable seating for everyone. For teenagers there is an innovation center with many current technologies, such as a sound recording booth. And for adults, their collection is on the 4th floor of the library and includes 4 study rooms for them to use up to two hours a day. 

I love this new facility. It has spaces for all ages to enjoy…There is not an opening date scheduled due to COVID-19. However staff cannot wait to have the public visit and use this amazing space.” said Christmas.

The previous main library’s books and other things were transferred to the new library during the first week of February. During February staff members began working inside the library. Recently the city ordered over 8,000 books for the new library where they were categorized onto the shelves. Although COVID-19 has kept the new library from opening at the moment, once it does there is plenty for everyone to enjoy at the library. From new books, to new technology for customers to use and enjoy, the New Riverside Library is nearly ready for when they are able to safely be open.

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