Historic library branch to reopen Saturday

February 25, 2011 1:09:47 PM PST
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is scheduled to join state and city officials Saturday to celebrate the reopening of the city's oldest library branch.

The library's Park Branch, which first opened in 1909, was renovated to meet today's environmental standards while being restoring to its neo-classical glory, library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers said.

Lee, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, state Sen. Mark Leno, state Sen. Leland Yee, City Librarian Luis Herrera and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma are among those scheduled to attend Saturday's ceremony.

It cost $2.9 million to redo the branch, the 16th to be renovated or built as part of the city's Branch Library Improvement Program, Jeffers said.

The program, which was funded by a $105.9 million bond measure passed by voters in 2000, is scheduled to renovate or build eight more branches, with six scheduled to open this year.

The nonprofit Friends of the San Francisco Public Library is working to raise $16 million for new furniture and equipment for the new and renovated branches, Jeffers said.

The Park Branch renovations were designed to meet LEED silver certification standards, including energy-efficient lighting and heating systems, sustainable linoleum flooring, and an improved electrical system.

The renovations are designed to accommodate the changes in technology that have occurred over the past century as well as pave the way for the changes to come.

"Times are changing and technology has grown so quickly," Jeffers said. "We knew we needed to do something to respond to the future for our patrons."

The changes include more space for computers and Wi-Fi access as well as flexible floor plans that will allow the library to adapt to changing needs in the future.

Renovators attempted to maintain the historic feel of the building in the process.

One example of this nod to history is the ceiling, which was painted to reflect the original skylights that were removed when the building was updated for seismic reasons in the late 1990s, Jeffers said.

Saturday's ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. at 1833 Page St., rain or shine, Jeffers said.

Organizers are planning for speakers, a traditional Chinese blessing ceremony, and musical entertainment.

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