The new Aptos Branch Library is shown Thursday to members of the media in preparation for a public grand opening Monday. Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

For more than two years, Aptos residents have had to travel to other areas of the county to check out a book, movie, magazine or other materials, as they eagerly awaited for their beloved library to return.

On Sunday, Aptos will once again have its community hub, or as Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend put it, its “new living room.”

Santa Cruz Public Libraries will host a grand opening celebration for the new Aptos Branch Library, 7695 Soquel Drive, Sunday from 1-5pm.

The ribbon-cutting event will include live music and performances, story time, crafts and speeches from the various officials involved in the construction of the new library.

The 12,400-square-foot building is outfitted with updated technology, an outdoor reading room, garden, patio, children’s reading area, rideshare and bike parking, group study rooms, a gallery, a community room and terrace, public art and historic displays in partnership with the Aptos History Museum.

Aptos Library is also a net-zero green building, meaning that all of its energy needs can be met onsite with features such as solar panels and windows oriented to maximize sunlight.

The $14 million project was funded by the 2016 voter-approved Measure S, a $67 million bond for library facility improvements, and donations from the community. 

The measure also funded the rebuilding of Capitola and Felton’s libraries.

The library was built by Santa Cruz-based Bogard Construction, with Anderson Brulé Architects providing the project’s design services. 

Friend said the new space will meet the needs of people of all ages and for future generations, with tech for seniors, private study areas for teens and a room for children.

“I consider this to be one of the greatest gifts to Aptos that’s been given in the last generation,” he said.

The previous building opened in 1975. But as the library’s services and popularity began to outgrow the spot, county and library officials began working on reimagining the space shortly after Measure S passed.

When rising construction costs left a gap in funding for construction, Santa Cruz Public Libraries and the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries raised $1 million to fill the hole.

Janis O’Driscoll, president of Friends, said she was grateful for everyone who supported the library.

“I’m thrilled to be standing here representing all the people in this community who wanted this kind of library, who needed this kind of library,” she said, adding that the Aptos library is one of the busiest branches in the system.

O’Driscoll said she joined Santa Cruz Public Libraries as a children’s librarian in Aptos about 30 years ago, making the new location especially meaningful for her.

“I remember the other building, it was a really interesting sort of convoluted children’s area,” she said of the portion of the former building that was tucked away into a corner behind glass. “Now look at it. It’s warm, welcoming and open.”

The former building closed in mid-2021 and was demolished a year later, with construction on the new library beginning shortly thereafter.

Artist Lea de Wit was chosen to create the artwork for the project.

The series of glass and steel panels, with a theme of “redwoods to the sea,” grace the teen courtyard and children’s patio.

De Wit said she worked with the library district’s Advisory Council of Teens to come up with the designs.

“I love the marriage of the metal with the glass,” she said, adding that the sunlight makes the panels “sing.” “Throughout the day and throughout the seasons, the work really changes and will make a dynamic statement here at the library.”

The Aptos Branch Library will be open six days a week, Monday through Thursday from 10am to 6pm, and Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

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