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Hamilton Field Library Opens Tomorrow

Marin County, CA - The history of the South Novato Branch of the Marin County Free Library will turn a page tomorrow with the grand opening of its new, bigger home at Hamilton Field.

Helen Romero, branch manager of the South Novato Library, unpacks boxes at the new branch location in the former Hamilton Air Force base in Novato yesterday. The new location is set to open tomorrow with ceremonies beginning at 11 a.m.

Barker said the building is sound but in need of some improvements. Upgrades likely will include new heating and air conditioning systems, as well as other interior renovations.

The branch recently was relocated from its former site at the Pacheco Plaza in Ignacio after its five-year lease there ran out.

A celebration with food, entertainment and other activities will be held at the new site, Hangar 6 on Hamilton Landing Road, starting at 11 a.m.

Among the dignitaries expected for a ribbon-cutting ceremony are Marin County Supervisor Cynthia Murray, Novato Mayor Pat Eklund and Novato Councilwoman Carole Dillon-Knutson, who had advocated for the branch's creation and helped find its new site as a member of the council's library committee.

"It was really controversial at the time," Dillon-Knutson said of the branch's origins. "There was only the one library branch in the city (on Novato Boulevard). It wasn't big enough and it was far away from a lot of city residents. There was talk if the south Novato branch wasn't opened that we'd pull out of the county system and start our own library, like some other (Marin) cities have done."

The branch has gone from a 2,000-square-foot storefront location on the edge of a shopping center into an approximately 7,000-square-foot space in a former military airplane hangar, under a 10-year lease with Barker Pacific Group.

The new site has 3,000 square feet dedicated for books and other public services. The remaining space will be used for technical and administrative offices that had been housed elsewhere, including MARINet, the computer system that tracks both the circulation and registered borrowers for the 11 county branches, as well as six independently run city libraries.

Dillon-Knutson said she expects that south Novato library patrons will continue to frequent the branch rather than go to the other one near downtown.

"It's a six-minute drive away," Gail Haar, deputy director of county library services, referring to the old and new branch locations. "It will be more accessible and a lot more convenient for people living in the growing community at Hamilton. We've wanted to be out there for some time."

Amenities at the new site include two self-checkout machines, eight desktop computers, wireless connections for personal laptops and expanded children, teen and large print areas.

The branch was designed by architect Mark Schatz, a south Novato resident and principal of Field Paoli Architecture in San Francisco, working with Peter D. Gallagher of Corte Madera, the architect of record.

It will be open the same number of hours per week as in Ignacio, but will open and close an hour later on Wednesdays and Saturdays as a result of customer requests, Haar said.

The branch hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The circulation desk number is 506-3165.

Contact Con Garretson via e-mail at cgarretson@marinij.com


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