Thursday, September 24, 2009

4. Rincon Valley Library

Set on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa, the Rincon Valley Library serves a wide range of patrons, from the retirees of Oakmont eastward down Hwy 12, to the families, teens and young children of the surrounding residential 'burgs: Rincon Valley, Brush Creek Road, Summerfield, Bennet Valley, Montgomery Village.  The first Santa Rosa Library, the Central Library in downtown SR, was created in 1884; the Rincon Valley Library, fourth of the four city libraries, was built in 1994, a nice solid span of 110 years. (The city libraries joined the county libraries to form the Sonoma County Library system in 1975)

Rincon Valley Library
6959 Montecito Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA

Time of visit: 6 - 7:30 p.m.

Books Checked Out:
The Married Man, novel, by Edmund White
The Best Day, the Worst Day, memoir, Donald Hall
The Niagara River (poems), Kay Ryan

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff : 4 bookmarks
Ambiance/Architecture: 4 bookmarks
Overall: 14 bookmarks

From the street, the building is modest, low-slung and uniformly brick, a welcome design for the hotter side of Santa Rosa. On approach, the entrance, at the far end of short exterior hallway, is cheerful and inviting.

On the left side of the hallway is the glass-door entry to the library proper; to the right, the glass-wall of the community room. As I walk up, a man pushes a cart loaded with amps, speakers and instrument cases up to the door of the community room, which the librarian is opening. A sign board (in pic above)  announces that the 4th Street Jazz Band would soon be playing. This could be fun. The tight tensions of a frazzled day at work begin to uncoil.

Entering the library, I am struck by the cheerful light and pleasant atmosphere, the friendly librarians, the  wide mix of patrons.  Although once again structured as a large (15,000 sq.ft) rectangle, the well-designed, vaulted ceiling grants a sense of spaciousness, even inspiration. Warm wood abounds: fir-laminate beams, oak posts and shelves. It's a comfortable space. Computers, both for patron use and catalog-searches, are scattered about, near the cap-ends of bookshelves, creating a sense of privacy, without being completely isolated.

The children's section (above) seems particularly cheerful, with pint-sized chairs and tables and cozy reading spots. Rows of reading chairs, and sturdy work tables with quite decent chairs, are nicely integrated with the many stacks.  The collection, approximately 50,000 volumes strong, seems both sizable and diverse, both for adults and kids. I mean, two copies of "A Fine Balance," by Rohinton Mistry (right up there as my fav novel of all time)? ... somebody has taste.

As I browse, considering my selections and testing the various chairs for comfort and fit, stray bits of melody (banjo, clarinet, horns) and the rustle of drums seep in from the conference room with the opening and closing of the doors.  I arrived tense and crabby from a busier Monday than usual; I'm now in a softer, gentler mood, the impending headache gone. As I leave, I can see, through the window-wall of the community room, the jazz band in full swing, the audience nodding and swaying in tempo.

I drive home, humming some rag-time tunes, a good stack of books by my side.


  1. I've put that Don Hall memoir on my to-read list.

    I love Kay Ryan!

    Is this library near the Charles Schulz Museum? I've always wanted to go there.

    All the wood in this library reminds me of a cozy cabin. Which is a perfect place to read.

  2. Thanks for giving us a good review!
    If you have a facebook account please become our friend!

  3. Dear Avid Reader... thanks for the invite; will do so!

  4. too. I'm sort of a Kay Ryan fanatic, really. I'm so digging the Niagara River, I'm going to get the book. I've purchased "Elephant Rocks" (one of her collections) so many times...b/c I'm always handing it out to my buddies, "here, you gotta read this." I was originally seduced by the book b/c those Elephant Rocks are close to here (we'd see them on our way to the beach), and she nails them.

    Yes, this library might be the closest of the libraries in Santa Rosa to the Schulz Museum. Also, the library (aka the Charles and Jean Schulz Information Center) at Sonoma State University is known locally as the Snoopy Library. I might get to it at the end of my tour. It's quite a process, getting to a library a week. I've got an even bigger respect now for your once-a-day project. Whooeee!

    Absolutely right about cabins and reading. We just returned from a cabin-camping vacation; it was reading and hiking bliss.


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