Morro Bay Public Library - Completed! / by Anne Bussone

Reiss Design Studio recently completed a remodel to the Morro Bay Library. The facility was in need of an update, additional space, a functional and integrated layout, and a design that inspired patrons. By working closely with the Morro Bay Friends of the Library (who fundraised, paid for the construction, and were integral in the design process), the County of San Luis Obispo (who manage the library system), the City of Morro Bay, the Morro Bay Library staff, and the community of Morro Bay, Reiss Design Studio was able to provide a design to meet the needs of all the stakeholders.

Remodel Wish List

  • Create a single, attractive public entrance: we accomplished this by creating a lobby accessed by both entry doors in an area that already had high ceilings and clerestory windows. The new information desk is central to the lobby.
  • Noise control in all areas: the children's area was separated from the adult areas to create a sound separation, acoustic ceiling tiles and partition walls were utilized, and an outdoor area off of the children's area dedicates a space for outdoor voices.
  • Opening the interior and unifying the separated spaces within the building: the building's two separate uses (library and community room) were combined into one large library space, and the structure of the building (pre-engineered metal building) allowed us to remove all of the interior walls as they were not load-bearing.
  • Create a colorful and inviting children's area visible to staff: the children's area is vibrant and distinct from the rest of the library. It is only accessible by passing by the main circulation desk, allowing staff oversight of the section. In addition, the bookcases are arranged on an angle to maintain a line of sight to all areas of the section.
  • Flexible space for programs: we provided a program room that facilitates small groups, can be opened up to accommodate larger groups, is directly off of the courtyard for versatility in programming, and that serves as an additional study space when not being utilized for programs.
  • More space for books and audio/visual materials: children's area increased 69%, adult books increased 22%, teen area increased 25%, and audio/visual increased 13%. All areas of the library received much-needed additional space.
  • Designated areas for reading, studying, and contemplation (group and individual): a variety of spaces are available within the library and attached courtyard, including reading couches in the children's area, computer area in the children's area, bistro tables for individuals or duos, comfortable chairs in the adult reading area, benches in the courtyard, small group tables throughout the library, multiple computer stations, and more.
  • Room for storage, book sales, staff work areas, private manager's office, and staff restroom: back-of-house areas are provided in a self-contained area to allow for increased productivity, staff spaces are efficiently designed and located adjacent to existing book return and inter-library transfer locations, and storage areas are located throughout the library.
  • Enclose the patio to be utilized as an outdoor library space: the patio is now fenced with direct access from the library and has become a huge asset to facility.
  • Check-in and check-out conveniently located: a thru-the-wall book return is provided in the "wave wall" of the entry hallway, multiple self-checkout locations have been provided, and a new information desk in the lobby allow for easy book return and check-out.
  • New accessible restrooms: new restrooms for both men and women that coordinate with the color scheme in the remodeled library have been included in the design.

Before Pictures

Quotes from Library Patrons

"Brilliant execution—a Morro Bay Renaissance! Lets see, SLO—the County Seat—next up [for] this superb architect! Bravo." 
"The most beautiful library on the Central Coast!" 
"What a beautiful remodel!! My son absolutely loves the new space for kids. Lots of comfy seats to sit and read!" 
"I have always loved libraries and Morro Bay's beauty. Now you have a place for lovers of books to meet beautiful architecture and excellent resources for learning & pleasure. THANK YOU!!"
"Well done! What a tremendous change = 'extreme makeover'! "

Shana Reiss especially enjoyed working on this project as she frequented the Morro Bay Library as a child. Giving new life to something that gave her life as a young person was very rewarding.

So head on over to the coast and get your learning fix in this beautifully renovated library! The Morro Bay Public Library is located at 625 Harbor Street and is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday through Saturday; 9am to 6pm on Tuesdays; and 10am to 6pm on Wednesdays (closed on Mondays).

Happy Reading!


Electrical Engineer: Gray Electrical Consulting + Engineering, LLC

General Contractor: T. Simons Co., Inc.

Mechanical Engineer: Brummel Mechanical Engineering

Structural Engineer: Lampman & Associates