Lakeport's Carnegie Library, built in 1918 is one of Lake County's many gems and it is now home to CLERC!
In the early 1990’s, coinciding with the designation of the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine as an EPA Superfund site, UC Davis began to assess Clear Lake ecologically, in particular to learn more about the mercury that flowed from the mine into the lake. They were also interested in learning more about the contribution of nutrients from the watershed in forming algae blooms (what’s now called CyanoHAB’s), historical investigations of sediments, and studying the mixing and transport of mercury in the lake. To advance these studies, UC Davis operated a research lab (CLERC 1.0) in the Lakeport Carnegie Library from November 1997 until late 2001.
Side Note – Similar to the JKF assassination or the moon landing, for those of us old enough to remember, everyone remembers where they were on 9/11. CLERC Board Member and former UC Davis CLERC researcher, David Adam was mopping the floors of the basement of the Carnegie Library on 9/11. David was cleaning up after the UC Davis CLERC project had been ordered to shut down due to budget cuts. This was one of the last times he’d set foot in the Carnegie Library building for nearly 20 years.
CLERC (2.0!) and the Lakeport Carnegie Library Go Way Back…to 2014
Since the Carnegie Library building has mostly been vacant since UC Davis CLERC moved out, the City was unsure what to do with the structure. The City hired an architecture consultant experienced with publicly-owned historical structures to conduct the Carnegie Library Re-Use Study. In June 2014, CLERC co-founders participated in several public forums discussing potential uses of the Carnegie Library and this also happened to be the same month that we incorporated CLERC as a 501c3 nonprofit. The idea of having CLERC continue on the research of the UC Davis CLERC at the Carnegie Library would continue to be a topic of discussion among our Board and partners for many years to come.
The Council supported the idea and we began working with City staff to renovate the basement of the building to suit our immediate needs. The City has been in the process of making additional improvements to the 100+-year old structure to prepare the upstairs to be open to the public, including repairs to the lath and plaster ceiling, weatherization around windows and doors, and energy efficient lighting upgrades.
In December of 2021, CLERC officially moved in and set up The CLERC Lab and offices downstairs.
CLERC’s partnership with the City on the Carnegie Library has been an important part of our organization’s growth over the last year. It’s allowed us to establish a home base for all of our operations, including our water quality lab. The Carnegie Library is ideally located, in a public space right on the shores of Clear Lake, for CLERC to engage the public on environmental issues. The Carnegie Library’s location also helps facilitate collaboration with many of our partners, such as the County of Lake, who are also largely based in Lakeport.
Once the upstairs of the Carnegie Library is all fixed up CLERC plans to open an interactive Environmental Education Center exploring the amazing natural science of Lake County and the surrounding areas.
The latest news, views, and perspectives from the Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (CLERC)