Construction of library to begin in late 2023 or early 2024

With the announcement the City of Porterville has received a $7.26 million grant toward the construction of its new library, the city state it anticipates the construction of the new library to begin in late 2023 or early 2024.

“The City of Porterville is very pleased to announce its selection as a recipient of a highly competitive California State Library grant for $7.26 million toward the development of the new Porterville Library,” the city stated.

The city stated it was selected after a rigorous selection process by the State Library’s Building Forward Library Infrastructure Grant Program. The city also stated it appreciated the support of State Senator Melissa Hurtado and State Assemblyman Devon Mathis, who both represent Porterville, which helped the city to be selected for the grant.

“The investment of $7.2 million to build #PortervilleLibrary is a major win for the city and for the Valley!” Hurtado posted on Twitter. “I am proud to have supported this funding and excited to see the future library and services it will bring to the city!”
Funds to communities with life-safety and critical maintenance needs with their libraries were awarded funds through the Building Forward Library Infrastructure Grant Program, especially for libraries serving underserved areas in the state.

The funding from the grant will go directly towards the construction of the new permanent library which is being built to replace the library that was destroyed by the February 18, 2020 fire that killed Porterville Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones.

The library will be placed on Olive across from the South County Justice Center and will be part of the Santa Fe Byway.

The city stated the temporary library adjacent to Grocery Outlet has been well received by the community after it opened on July 1. Bu the city stated a need for a larger library is still necessary.

The city had been looking at plans for a new library for years even before the fire destroyed the old library which was constructed in the early 1950s and expanded in the 1970s. The old library was 18,000 square feet.

The new library is proposed to be 40,000 square feet which is a size considered to meet the minimum need of a community the size of Porterville. The proposed size of the library was based upon a Needs Assessment that was completed in 2021 and included input from the community through a survey and focus groups.

The cost of the new library is anticipated to be $25 million to $30 million. With the $7.26 million grant and funding from insurance money from the library fire, that would fund up to 60 to 70 percent of the construction cost.

The city is looking at other sources to provide the rest of the funding for the construction of the library, including private donations and possibly using federal American Rescue Plan funds it has received. The city is continuing to look to find other grants and federal and state funds to provide the remaining funds needed for the construction of the library.

The city had requested the maximum amount of $10 million that could have been awarded through the grant program. Porterville library Vikki Cervantes said the city was “beyond grateful” to receive the $7.26 million grant.