BERKELEY -- A new $6.5 million South Branch Library and Tool Lending Library will open May 11 after a little more than a year of construction.

The old 5,400 square foot South Branch Library at the corner of Russell Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way closed in March 2012 and was torn down. The new library on the same site will be larger, at 8,700 square feet and have separate spaces for adults, teens and children, community meeting space and a small group study room, said Douglas Smith, deputy director of Berkeley Public Libraries.

The Tool Lending Library, which was relocated to 2525 Eighth St. during construction, will close at that location April 20 and reopen at its former home on the same site as the South Branch Library. A mobile branch van that has been lending books during the construction at 1730 Oregon St. will close April 27.

The new South Branch library in Berkeley is under construction on Thursday April 5, 2013. The $10 million building is set to open May 11. (Doug
The new South Branch library in Berkeley is under construction on Thursday April 5, 2013. The $10 million building is set to open May 11. (Doug Oakley/Staff)

"The branch van will continue lending books at its West Berkeley stop at 920 Allston Way," Smith said.

As the South Branch gets ready to open, a second new Berkeley library, the West Branch, on University Avenue, near San Pablo Avenue, is scheduled to reopen in the fall, Smith said. That library was torn down last May.

The new building will be 9,300 square feet and cost about $7.5 million, Smith said.

In addition to the tax bonds that are paying for the two new libraries, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation is raising money for new furnishings, fixtures and equipment in both libraries, which are not covered by the bond funds. For information on how to donate, contact Kirsten Cowan at 510-981-6115.


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Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.