Air quality terrible on East Coast

For the last few days we have been learning about the unhealthy air quality on the East Coast due to the Canadian forest fires.

This is just a sad reminder about similar horrible instances of smoke filled skies here in El Cerrito that could return at almost any time.

Orange sky in background of the SF Bay Bridge, caused by wildfire further north in 2021

Photo Credit: “The Day the Sun Didn’t Rise” by Christopher Michel

When such conditions occur, it is unhealthy for anyone to be outdoors. For some folks, even their homes are not an adequate refuge from the toxic pollution that heavy smoke creates.

In communities with modern libraries, with up-to-date heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, the local library can serve as a refuge for folks who suffer from respiratory problems.

On extremely hot days, such libraries can also become temporary “cooling centers” where folks can get relief from the heat.

Unfortunately in El Cerrito our very old library does not have any such modern HVAC equipment and cannot provide any such needed relief from smoke or heat.

Thus, when the air quality gets really bad or temperatures get very hot, our current El Cerrito library is not able to help our residents.

In fact, when conditions are really bad, our library sometimes has to close entirely beause it is unsafe for patrons and staff to even be in the building.

Fortunately our City Council, the Friends of the El Cerrito Library, our Library Foundation and many enthusiastic Library supporters are working to change this situation by advocating for a new 21st century library of adequate size and with modern air conditioning equipment to serve the growing El Cerrito community.

We will keep you up to date on developments regarding a new library with occasional news reports from the Foundation. If you know of others who might be interested in keeping track of this project, direct them to our Foundation web site at where they can sign up for breaking news as our BART Plaza Station Library project gathers momentum.

We help bring people and IDEAS together