Sutter County Library renovations

Major renovations that have been completed at the Sutter County Library at 750 Forbes Ave. in Yuba City are pictured Tuesday during a tour of the facility. The library remains closed to the public while other renovations are awaiting completion.

After construction crews began a major renovation project for the Sutter County Library in February of last year, that work is still not completed as issues blamed in part on supply chain backlogs have contributed to a delay in the opening of the main Yuba City branch.

According to Appeal archives, the facility located at 750 Forbes Ave. in Yuba City was originally built in 1971 when the city had a population of 13,986 people. 

Due to its advanced age, city and county officials decided to expand the building’s square footage for the public and add new offerings, including an Innovation Center, which will provide residents with access to modern educational opportunities and tools, including a second 3D printer.

The facility also was slated to receive new flooring, new paint for the walls and new furniture. All of which, for the most part, have been completed.

Renovations at the library were expected to be completed in 90 days. But, because of small fixes that have been delayed due in part to supply chain issues happening nationally, the library has remained closed, said James Ochsner, director of Library Services for Sutter County Library.

“A million little details that are just dependent on (supply chain issues),” said Ochsner. 

According to Appeal archives, the renovation project is a collaboration between Yuba City, Sutter County, the Sutter County Library and the county’s Development Services Department. A construction contract was awarded to RBH Construction, Inc. out of Folsom in January 2021 in the amount of $796,631.

“Most of it’s done,” said Ochsner during a tour of the library with the Appeal earlier this week. “... Basically it’s like everyone else during COVID, supply issues, everything was slowed down … labor, supply.”

Ochsner said he had written a grant to replace some shelving and get extra equipment. Because of the time it took to confirm he would have the funds to purchase what was needed, delays in improvements at the library were exacerbated.

“Some things were ordered a little later than when the construction actually started,” said Ochsner. “I was just waiting to see if I get the grant. So, all of that stuff that got ordered in end of summer, early fall, it’s … six to eight months (until delivery).”

Ochsner said most of the fixes that needed to be completed before the library could again open its doors to the public were minor.

“They’re kind of little things, some of it’s little,” said Ochsner.

One of those “little things” is a large flat screen television that is mounted to the wall near the entrance of the library. Because of how the television is mounted, it is currently not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This is not ADA compliant because it sticks out more than four inches from the wall,” said Ochsner as he pointed to the side and back of the television.

He said a cabinet was ordered to comply with the ADA issue. He also mentioned that earthquake bracing also was needed for shelving units at the library.

During a tour of the library on Tuesday, it appeared that the majority of the renovations have been completed, including the addition of study rooms and the relocation of the main desk.

“It looks really different when you come in from what it used to look like,” said Ochsner. “It was a little bit darker.”

Library staff is currently in the process of moving books and shelves back into the public portion of the library – a long and tedious process that Ochsner said has been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions.

“We moved all the books from the front to the back room during the construction, so we moved about 100,000 books out of here and we’re just in process now of bringing them all back out,” said Ochsner. “... It just takes a long time because with COVID, partly, when we first shut down they didn’t allow more than two people at once. … Now it’s kind of the same story. We thought we were going to have help from county facilities, but they’re either booked solid or sick. … So we’re doing it all with just library staff.”

Other renovations already completed at the library include more spread out seating areas for patrons and charging stations that the public can use while at the library for electronic devices. Ochsner said the idea of more open space within the library was part of the grant funding he had sought.

Once completed, there also will be a teen area of the library with at least 12 computer stations available for use and another 12 computer stations will be available for adults to use in another section of the main room.

Ochsner said he was hopeful the library would reopen this year, but couldn’t predict exactly when that would happen.

“It has to open this year,” said Ochsner. “... I kind of quit putting dates on it, because I told people August, and then I told people November, and then I told them Jan. 1.”

Besides its online and virtual offerings, the library in Yuba City is currently offering curbside service until it can fully open.

“In Yuba City, we have obviously curbside service, they can still get any book that they want,” said Ochsner. “We’re part of the Sacramento public library system, so they have access to over a million items just by going online and ordering whatever they want.”

For those not wanting to use the online service, Ochsner said the public can always call the library to receive any available item.

He also said the library provides online access to about 3,000 magazine subscriptions and provides other virtual offerings such as audio books and e-books.

“It’s hard when you’re not open to get the message out that those are some really great resources available,” said Ochsner.

Ochsner said the renovation of the library has been a “huge challenge” and that staff at the library has missed seeing and having interactions with patrons that often frequented the facility.

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