Santa Ana’s main public library will be closed for two weeks as of the end of the day today while the building’s ground floor undergoes a renovation so library patrons will be easier to monitor.
The renovations will relocate most of the seating to a central area of the main floor and install new flooring, additional electrical outlets and add new furniture.
The city hopes the new floor plan will help stem complaints about visitors sleeping, drinking, smoking, doing drugs and other misbehavior in the library.
The library will reopen on Aug. 29.
Some families have long complained that the Santa Ana Civic Center’s homeless encampment has spilled over into the library, making it an insecure place for them to take their children.
Many homeless people, however, have felt unfairly discriminated against, especially as they rely on the library to charge their phones and electronic devices, access computers, apply for jobs and seek shelter during hot or rainy weather.
The new floor plan will make it easier for staff to enforce rules of conduct and weed out inappropriate behavior, said Parks and Recreation Director Gerardo Mouet.
“Individuals sometimes sit in the peripheral areas on the second floor are a little out of eyesight, and we tend to have more problems there with regards to following rules of conduct,” said Mouet. “It’s not just homeless people. It could just be someone completely asleep, taking up space and not using the library.”
Recently city and library staff have reported finding used needles hidden in bookshelves and around the library, although Mouet said he is not aware of any incidents where a person hurt themselves.
In the past the city has installed surveillance cameras, which have reduced some behavior, but there aren’t enough cameras to view every part of the library.
While the main library is closed, residents can go to the Newhope Library Learning Center at 122 Newhope Street, Santa Ana, or at the Garfield Community Center at 501 North Lacy Street.
Mouet said residents can have books from the main library sent to the Newhope library, although there may be delays.
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