Phoenix Burton Barr Library Temporary Location To Open In January

By Kaely Monahan
Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 - 1:47pm
Updated: Friday, December 29, 2017 - 7:21pm
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(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Fire Department)
About 6,000 books from the 500,000 book collection were permanently water damaged.

Residents of downtown Phoenix will finally have an alternative library location to visit while repairs to Burton Barr on Central Avenue continue. After months of hunting, a temporary location is projected to open Jan. 5.

And unlike the recognizable glass temple building designed by architect Will Bruder, this temporary location is actually below ground. Yep, you’ll find the 35,000-square-foot temporary location in the basement of Park Central Mall.

City of Phoenix Library community relations manager, Lee Franklin said the subterranean location ticked all the right boxes.

"There's a lot of things that go into selecting a location where we're going to be able to offer a public service like a library," Franklin said. "You know, is there a good access as far as cars and public transit, can they get in and out? Do we have a location that can handle the parking that might be needed. Plus just a regular ebb and flow of the public that come in and out of libraries in the different ways that use that."

While underground, book lovers will find almost everything they need. Franklin said the temporary library will be a Burton Barr “lite.”

"We'll have about approximately 50,000 items from the Burton Barr collection that will be available for checkout and that number can increase," he said. "You know, the longer we are we've got the doors open and we get feedback from customers and we get in there and see what's working and what's not. We'll have programming for families, for early literacy, our signature program with our Phoenix parks department 'Code Phoenix,' which is a coding program for elementary and teen students will be there. Plus then we'll have various cultural related adult programs and the computers for public access."

There was a hope that the temporary location would be open in December. But Franklin said that the delay in opening a temporary space was caused by needing to find the right location that would meet the library’s and community’s needs.

Franklin said that they’re anticipating being able to move back into Burton Barr this upcoming summer — possibly as early as June.

"Right now we have been focusing on floors one through four, doing a lot of electrical work and drywall plaster work," Franklin said. "We've replaced a lot of the carpet that we needed to replace after the flood. But after the first of the year is where the community will see the works starting on the replacement of the blue and the fire suppression system as well as the bulk of the work on the poor which was you know before right below where the water was flowing."

The Burton Barr library sustained significant storm damage last July and the library has been closed for repairs since.

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