While officials acknowledged that it was a relatively small sum compared with the projected cost of the new library, they said any little bit would help in the exploratory and design phase. The existing building at 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd. is overcrowded and lacks the space needed to expand, officials said.
"In these tough economic times, we especially appreciate any help we can get to improve public services and outreach," Mayor Anja Reinke said in a statement.
In its announcement, Schiff's office warned that the funding, which is tucked into the latest Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, still had some key legislative hurdles to clear, but that its inclusion was a "positive step."
There is no timeline for when a new Central Library branch would begin construction because officials have yet to move through the time-consuming and expensive process of public outreach and drafting design and engineering documents.
The new Central Library would include more computers, a space dedicated to teens, and other amenities, said Library Services Director Sharon Cohen. Officials also plan to work eco-friendly building features into the project.
The Central Library, which houses the majority of the city's collection, closed for a scaled-back set of renovations in 2003 in anticipation of an all-new branch down the line. Over that time, use of the public library system has grown 82%, according to the city. Since last year, demand has increased 7%.
Officials have attributed much of the growth to the economy — people tend to use library checkouts instead of more expensive purchases on Amazon.com or rentals through Netflix — and because the system now offers a wider array of programming.
"When times get tough, people turn to the library," Cohen said. "We just don't have the space to expand services."
The last library to get an overhaul was the Buena Vista branch. The city bought the parcel at 300 N. Buena Vista St. for $8 million to build a replacement that was about three times the size of its predecessor.
A site for the new Central Library has not been picked, but Cohen said she'd prefer it to be across the street from the existing building.